|Monk translating scriptures
Times: 7-8am, 9.15-11.45am, 3-5.45pm
It was St Benedict who composed the original Rule
for living in monastic communities. He envisioned the monastery as a
reclusive and self-sufficient community, directed by an elected abbot.
To lessen dependence on the secular word, the Rule decreed that
everything essential for life, such as water, mills, gardens, and
workshops, be found within the monastery walls.
Aside from prayer a monk needed to be industrious to help the monastery
survive. During the day, Monks worked in the monastery garden, helped
with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and did other jobs that the
abbot - the chief monk - gave them to do.
Growing crops such as wheat and barley and vegetables was the core
occupation. Monks became so sophisticated at providing for
themselves that many monasteries became well-known commercial
operations. They also invented ground-breaking methods of agriculture
that are still used today.
Because supplies of clean water were rare in the Medieval world,
monasteries also specialised in beer and wine production. - a skill
which many have continued into the modern world. In England some
monasteries became enormously wealthy by raising sheep and selling
And then there was the maintenance of the monastery itself; opening
and shutting the gates, winding the clocks, sweeping and polishing the
church and cleaning out the cells.
But the chief occupation of many monasteries was creating books in the
scriptorium. In the days before printing, books were written out b hand
using colors combined with egg whites, even real gold and silver to
painstakingly illustrate and enhance their handiwork.
Writing out long books by hand was hard, slow work. An expert monk might
copy out two or three books in a year - working fulltime. But it was
through the work of these mediaeval monks that many of the great works of
ancient literature were preserved through the dark ages and into the
The life of a monk was on the whole, a hard one.
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