Origins of the Prinknash Community
We are a community of twelve Roman Catholic Benedictine Monks belonging to the Subiaco Congregation within the International Benedictine Confederation with its base at Sant’Anselmo Rome. Our life is regulated by the Rule of Saint Benedict that was written 1500 years ago in Italy. It was, after the Bible, the most influential Christian document in Europe during the Middle Ages, and still has relevance today.
Our aim is to live a monastic life of prayer, work, sacred reading (the Bible and other Christian authors), community life and hospitality, all of which is based on our estate of 400 acres. People come to us, rather than we go to them. The monk’s day centres round the praying of the Divine Office (St Benedict calls it the “Work of God” in his Rule) several times a day. The community makes a lot of incense, rosary beads, watercolour paintings and runs a bi-annual magazine called PAX. Some members of the community are ordained priests, and occasionally are called upon to say a Sunday Mass in a local parish, when the local clergy are stretched. This, however, is an exceptional activity and not one we would seek.
Our particular community began life in the Church of England when our founder, Abbot Aelred Carlyle set up a small community in the Isle of Dogs, London. After many wanderings, that community eventually settled permanently on Caldey Island off Tenby, South Wales, and became Roman Catholic in 1913. Financial pressure forced them to leave Caldey and come to Prinknash Park in December 1928, where they have been ever since. (Caldey Abbey was taken over by another branch of the Benedictine family, the Trappists). But the Prinknash community flourished in the mid-20th century, and was able to take over Saint Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough from the French in 1947, re-found Pluscarden Abbey Elgin, Moray, Scotland, in 1948 and, with Saint Augustine’s Abbey Ramsgate and Pluscarden, founded a small dependent house in Ghana, West Africa in 1989, known as Kristo Buase Monastery.
The monks of Pluscarden currently keep this monastery running, with some help from Dzogbégan, a French-speaking monastery of our Subiaco Congregation in nearby Togo. The Prinknash community are everlastingly grateful for this help.