A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

By Patrick Leigh Fermor

Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his manner throughout Europe, as acknowledged in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of international warfare II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a couple of extra inward trip, describing his a number of sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and so much venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, a superb repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, recognized for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of l. a. Grande Trappe, the place clergymen take a vow of silence. eventually, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.

More than a heritage or trip magazine, although, this pretty brief publication is a meditation at the that means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an lifestyles whose quietness is just diverse by way of the silent nutrition, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and lots more and plenty that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a nation of peace that's unthought of within the traditional world.”

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The history of the Abbey of St. Wandrille typifies French religious and secular life through nearly three-quarters of the Christian era. Early chronicles still in existence, and the famous Gesta Abbatum, tell of its beginnings when the north of France was divided up into the shadowy realms of Neustria and Austrasia, regions of forest and swamp which only the wolves and wild boar inhabited. The full name of the monastery is L’Abbaye de St. D. 649, Wandrille, with a handful of monks, cleared the forest and built the first conventual buildings.

649, Wandrille, with a handful of monks, cleared the forest and built the first conventual buildings. Wandrille came of a family of some standing. He was a cousin of Pepin the Old and of the Mayor of the Austrasian palace and himself began life as a courtier of King Dagobert. But he abandoned the court and the prospects of a splendid marriage and wandered south from monastery to monastery, remaining a number of years in the cloisters of St. Columbanus, the stern Irish Abbot of Bobbio in Cisalpine Gaul.

This stilted manner of treating a lay text sounded absurd at first and oddly sanctimonious; its original object, I discovered, had been both to act as a curb on histrionic vanity and to minimise the difficulties of the unlearned reader in the days of St. Benedict. Throughout the entire meal no other word was spoken. The tables were cleared, and the monks, their eyes downcast, sat with their hands crossed beneath their scapulars. The Abbot thereupon gave a sharp tap with a little mallet; the reader, abandoning his text, bowed so low over the balustrade that it seemed that he would fall out and then intoned the words Tu autem Domine misercre nobis; all rose, and bowing to a rectangular position with their hands crossed on their knees, chanted a long thanksgiving.

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