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Monk Sleeping
Monk sleeping

Times: 3.30am-4am, 1.45-2.45pm, 8pm-1.45am

The life of a monk was harsh and uncomfortable. They lived in communal dormitories, or in single bare cells, which were hot in summer and freezing in winter.

Between praying up to seven times a day and working a medieval monk got little sleep. They averaged approximately five hours sleep between evening prayers and the 2am church service, and then snatched another half an hour before being up at 4am for more prayer.

They were allowed to rest again after their midday meal but many spent that time in private reflection and reading.

They slept on narrow slabs of stone with only straw for padding, with only coarse blankets as a covering.

When they joined the monastery novices or monks in training were issued with only two sets of clothing and only two blankets. For monks like Martin Luther in Northern Germany the nights were very chilly indeed.

For many the only personal items they owned, having renounced all their material possessions, was a crucifix and their begging bowl.

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