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Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Ampleforth monks celebrate fourth centenary
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¬†This week for the first time in more than 250 years a group of English Benedictine monks have celebrated Mass and Vespers in the small town of Dieulouard in north-east France from where they had fled in 1793. The monks had travelled from Ampleforth in North Yorkshire to celebrate the fourth centenary of the founding of their community at Dieulouard in 1608. On 9 August that year, a small group of exiled English Benedictine monks arrived in Dieulouard and were given a deserted collegiate church in the centre of the town. The church was dedicated to St Laurence and so the monks adopted him as the patron of their Community. The Benedictine community of St Laurence remained in Dieuloaurd for 185 years, but had to escape from France at the time of the French Revolution and in 1802 finally settled at Ampleforth, in North Yorkshire. On 8 July a small group of monks from Ampleforth Abbey, led by their Abbot the Right Reverend Cuthbert Madden OSB, returned to Dieulouard to mark the fourth centenary of the foundation there. The visit began with Mass in the parish church of Dieulouard on Wednesday morning, followed by an official reception with the Mayor and the President of Les Amis de Vieux Dieulouard in the old fortress and lunch in the monastery. Later that afternoon the Ampleforth monks visited the nearby town of Belleville, where, in January 1636, two monks ≠ Fr Anselm Williams and Br Leander Neville ≠ were hung from a lime-tree by a group of soldiers. The Abbot of Ampleforth planted a lime-tree in Belleville in honour of these two martyrs. The visit culminated in the celebration of Mass for the feast of St Benedict on the evening of 10 July. Abbot Cuthbert Madden said that the monks of St Laurence had been "deeply saddened at having to leave our monastery here in Dieulouard after the French Revolution, and it is with great joy that we are able to return today to our roots as pilgrims". The Abbot went on to speak about the threats posed by European society today, a society where religious belief of any sort is deemed an irrelevance. "It is particularly appropriate", he said, "that we return to the place of our rebirth, the place where, in 1608, a new community was born. We can learn much by reflecting on the struggles and spirituality of the monks of the 17th and 18th centuries. It is, furthermore, appropriate for us to renew our gratitude to the community which sheltered those who went before us. It was indeed from this very village that Englishmen went forth, alone or in small groups, to provide for the needs of their compatriots in England. It was to this village that some returned, exiled by a hostile government. For almost two centuries this was our home. We thank you for the shelter you gave us in those days, and we invite you to join your prayers to ours, as we pray for the renewed health and strength of European monasteries, that they may be sources for new life for our countries in the years to come". Source: Ampleforth
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