RIP Fr Wulstan of St Michael’s Abbey

From the blog of St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough. Follow the link to read more. A fascinating obituary!
Our oldest monk, Fr Wulstan, died on Saturday. He was 99 years old and more than 79 years a son of St Benedict, almost 70 years a priest. With him dies a great chunk of the history of our community and his loss is keenly felt by our little community, especially by Brother Thomas, Brother Michael, and Brother Anselm who cared for him day and night for these last years….

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Gang Attack St Michael’s Abbey in Farnborough

Surprisingy Farnborough in Hampshire has it’s own Abbey, St Michael’s Abbey. Well, not quite it’s own but one built by The Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III of France.

Unfortunately the Abbey grounds and the monastic community have recently been attacked, as reported in the Farnborough News and Mail.

I visited the Abbey last Saturday and asked my guide Brother Thomas how they were coping. His reply was “it’s an occupational hazard nowadays.”

Gang attack historic abbey in Farnborough
By Jack Sommers
June 25, 2010

MONKS are living in fear after a gang of teenagers stormed their historic abbey, causing £2,000 worth of damage.

A group of between 15 and 20 youths began shouting abuse at the monks at St Michael’s Abbey via the gate-phone at its Farnborough Road entrance in the late hours of Saturday June 12, the day of England’s match against the USA in the World Cup.

Father Dom Cuthbert Brogan, abbot of the Grade 1 listed abbey, said he had been frustrated when he was told by police that it would not be possible to immediately despatch officers to the scene when he reported the disturbance.

The police said that the evening had been busy, with disturbances caused by a large number of people who had gone out after the World Cup match.

Fr Cuthbert said: “While I understand the limited resources of the police force and the necessity of prioritising emergency calls, I cannot help but be disappointed to be informed, while 20 youths are breaking into our property and threatening us, that the most we can hope for is a visit within a few days for an incident report.

Pray for the safety of the Abbey and the community there.

Here’s a pic I took whilst there. Enjoy, and visit if you can!

St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough

I’ve lived in Farnborough for over 20 years and have never really been aware of the presence of St Michael’s Abbey , let alone visited it.

So yesterday I decided to set things right and paid them a visit. The Abbey does public visits every Saturday at 3pm so I availed myself of the tour to see the Abbey and the Crypt. You can read about the Abbey at their website or on Wikipaedia.

I was given a tour by one of the Benedictine brothers which included the church and also the crypt where the Empress Eugenie, her husband Napoleon III and their son the Prince Imperial are entombed.

The church is in a baroque style complete with amazing gargoyles. Inside it was very moving with the reverence that such an environment gives to worship. The marble flooring was fantastic, the windows are in a Belgian bottle style and some ‘English’ stained glass windows. My first ever visit to a Catholic church. The recently installed underfloor heating was most welcome according to the brother!

From the church we walked around the grounds, past the monastery graveyard to the crypt built by Eugenie. Through the door we go down steps to the centre of the crypt. Ahead is the altar and above and beyond that is the huge marble casket containing the remains of Eugenie. To the left and right are similar caskets of her husband Napoleon III and her son, the Prince Imperial who was killed during the Zulu Wars in KwaZulu -Natal whilst in the employ of the British Army.

Afterwards a trip was made to the monastery shop where you find for sale the produce of the monks and the volunteers, honey, beef, candles and cards together with the usual things you’d expect in a Christian shop.

The monks raise cattle, keep bees, excel in Gregorian chant and have an expertise in bookbinding. Perhaps apt that you’ll also find the National Catholic Library in the grounds.

A visit to the Abbey is a really good way to spend a few hours if you are in the neighbourhood. So give them a visit and help support the community there.