Skip to comments.Monks in California Breathe Life Into a Monastery From Spain
Posted on 01/11/2013 7:01:41 AM PST by marshmallow
VINA, Calif. The rebirth of a medieval Cistercian monastery building here on a patch of rural Northern California land was, of course, improbable. William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, brought the dismantled Santa Maria de Óvila monastery from Spain but failed to restore it. The City of San Francisco, after some fitful starts at bringing the monastery back to life, left its stones languishing for decades in Golden Gate Park. The Great Depression, World War II and lethargy got in the way.
But an aging and shrinking order of Cistercian monks have accomplished what great men and cities could not: the reconstruction of Santa Maria de Óvilas most architecturally significant building, a 12th-century Gothic chapter house. The monks ascribed the successful restoration to their faith, though years of tenacious fund-raising, as well as a recent alliance with a local beer brewer, also helped.
The meaning that this holds for us, and the link to hope, is that it may take generations, the Rev. Paul Mark Schwan, the abbot of the New Clairvaux monastery, said of the restoration. What appears dead, or almost dead, rises again.
With the major work complete, the chapter house was opened to the public last year.
We got into possession of the stones, and theyve come home a long ways from Spain, but back on Cistercian land with Cistercian monks returning it to sacred space, Father Schwan said on a recent chilly afternoon, standing just inside one of the arched entrances, his voice resonating off the limestone walls and vaulted ceilings. I look at this, and its remarkable weve come this far, that this is actually all put back together.
With two-thirds of the original stones and modern earthquake-resistant reinforcements, Óvilas chapter house now sits, perhaps incongruously, in an open field near the......
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Don’t go into the NYT for any reason even for a pix of a rebuit monastary by old Cistercians.
You can see some pictures at the New Clairvaux Monastery site, linked in the article.
After sorting through the monastery pages a bit I went to the NYT article. It gave the timeline of this structure, which helped a lot.
Long story short, built in the 1100’s in Spain in a spot where they’d just chased out the Moors. Shutdown by the Spanish govt in the 1800’s fell into disuse, was used as a manure pit, bought by William Randolph Hurst in the early 1920’s to use as part of his multi story castle that he never built because he went broke so he donated all the stones to San Francisco. They sat on city property till the 1990’s. In 2004 work started reassembling the stones in Northern California and today the Chapter House is in use.
Its an amazing and beautiful story.