Excerpts from Good Night and God Bless, Vol II
France – Places of Interest – Page 15
The current prioress of Regina Laudis is Mother Dolores Hart (b. 1938), former actor and Elvis Presley’s (1935–1977) co star (Loving You, Where the Boys Are and King Creole, in which she and Elvis shared an on-screen kiss) who forsook Hollywood to become a contemplative Benedictine nun.
France – Open Houses – Page 69
This is surely one of the city’s best kept accommodation secrets, given that many visitors to Nice would be happy paying large sums of money for a hotel room with views akin to those from the guestrooms of the monastery. The guesthouse is situated on a slight rise near the ocean ferry terminal in an exclusive, quite fashionable area of Nice and was once the local diocesan seminary for trainee priests, who could only have been inspired by the views from the front-facing windows.
France – Open Houses – Page 74 and 75
He advertised in the local newspaper for a ‘pretty’ night nurse. A local girl, 21-year-old Monique Bourgeois, was given the job. Over time Monique and Henri (Matisse) became the best of friends, and she even modelled for some of his paintings (Monique in Gray Robe, Green Dress and Oranges, The Idol and Tabac Royale). In return he taught her to paint. Henri was devastated when, two years later, Monique informed him that she was going to become a nun.
Her friendship with Matisse created such interest that in 1993 Sister Jacques wrote a book, Henri Matisse, La Chapelle de Vence. In 2003, Barbara Freed, Professor of French Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was sufficiently intrigued to film a documentary about the friendship, A Model For Matisse: The Story of the Vence Chapel. In the film, the down-to-earth Sister Jacques says she thought of Matisse as her grandfather: ‘No one could say there was anything improper between us because there never was.’ Nevertheless the documentary makes fascinating viewing.
United Kingdom – Food and Drink – Page 149
Fancy a pint? The old English pub The Black Friar was built on the site of an old monastery beside Blackfriars Station. A jolly—and obviously well-fed—monk welcomes guests from above the front door and the monastic theme continues inside where, if it were not for the bartenders pulling pints, you might think you were in a very busy and very thirsty monastery. Please note Blackfriars Station will be closed for renovation until the end of 2011.
United Kingdom – Places of Interest – Page 170
..rumour has it that the local Anglican bishop enjoys a round here when time permits. This may account for a signpost near the 6th tee promoting attendance at the local churches. According to the magazine Christian Today, the church turned down suggestions of a sign reading ‘The fairway to Heaven’ or ‘For when your life is in the rough’ and came up instead with ‘A branch in every village’.
United Kingdom – Spiritual Retreats – Page 189
In 2001 the sisters inaugurated the highly regarded, invitation-only Tyburn Lecture, whereby a prominent person is invited to speak on the subject of their choice. Previous speakers include Cherie Booth QC (b. 1954), and the Rt. Hon. Chris Patten (b. 1944), former governor of Hong Kong. The Deputy Chairman of international news service Reuters, Irishman Niall Fitzgerald KBE , (b. 1945), delivered the 2009 lecture. The speakers at Speakers’ Corner (opposite the convent) may not be so polished, but the right of free speech is alive and well come Sunday mornings when anyone can voice an opinion–and even be listened to.
Ireland – Places of Interest – Page 259
Each year in Croke Park Stadium, the Archbishop of Cashel starts off the All-Ireland Hurling and Gaelic Football Finals with a throw. This tradition dates back to the early 1800s when Croke Park was named after His Grace the Most Rev. Dr Thomas William Croke (1824–1902), Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, the first Patron of the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association). The honour was once bestowed on Irish Patriot Michael Collins (1890–1922). It seems that both patriot and archbishop managed to keep their digits intact!
Ireland – Places of Interest – Page 288
And if the kids haven’t spotted a leprechaun yet, then get over to Leahy’s Open Farm on the outskirts of Dungourney Village on the Tallow Road and check out the Leprechauns’ Cave.
Ireland – Food and Drink – Page 309
The Dying Cow—so called after an unfortunate creature belonging to the pub’s former licensee— is more formally known as Tallon’s Pub. It’s a welcoming, rural watering hole and resting place for walkers on the Wicklow Way. Irish music night is on Thursdays. According to Paddy Dillon in his book The Irish Coast to Coast Walk, the Dying Cow was so named after ‘the police visited late one night, and the landlady at the time objected, saying she wasn’t serving drinks after hours, but only providing refreshments to neighbours who were helping her with a dying cow!’ (Paddy Dillon, The Irish Coast to Coast Walk, Cicerone Press 2005).
Excerpts from Good Night and God Bless, Vol I
Austria – Open Houses – Page 9
Previously the sisters’ main source of income was from breeding chickens on the abbey’s farm. This was tiring work and once too often a hardworking nun would fall asleep during prayer time. Justifiably unhappy with this state of affairs the Abbess proposed turning the farm into a health complex, and convinced the local bank manager to support the project. While the complex was constructed, the sisters learned healing therapies and studied hospitality and accounting. Under the control of the sisters, the business achieved great success; so much so that a hotel was later established to cope with the demand.
Austria – Salzburg – Page 19
Centuries earlier, in 714ad, St Rupert (the first bishop of Salzburg) founded the great Nonnberg Nunnery, which has overlooked the city from its hillside perch for almost 1300 years. The nunnery, formally titled St Ehrentraud Abbey, after its first abbess, is the oldest women’s monastery in Austria. Up until the mid-19th century only daughters of the aristocracy were allowed to enter the Nonnberg Convent. Today overnight guests join with the nuns in days of prayer and silence.
Austria – Places of Interest – Page 29
Liquid refreshment in the form of Gösser Beer (Austria’s finest beer, according to locals) can be enjoyed in any of the taverns and beer gardens in the town. The locally produced variety is the most popular brand in Styria. It was Benedictine nuns of the local convent, Stift-Göss, who first established a brewery in Leoben in 1020 and brewed the beer themselves, considering the product ‘liquid bread’ which they are said to have distributed freely. The nuns have long gone but a brewery is still active. The remains of the ancient convent and the nuns’ now restored church are local tourist attractions. The brewery tavern serves full meals.
Austria – Pilgrimages – Page 77
Some make a pilgrimage to the Pfarrkirche (parish church) in Mondsee on the outskirts of Salzburg, where the on-screen marriage of Baron Georg Von Trapp and Fraulien Maria Augusta Kutschera was filmed for the timeless movie The Sound of Music. In 1939 Georg and Maria and family moved to Stowe in Vermont, USA where they established an Austrian-style ski lodge. The 1965 movie launched the family into a lifetime of celebrity. Georg and Maria have passed on and the much heralded Trapp Family Lodge is now run by the youngest child Johannes. During World War I the Von Trapp family lived for a time at the Abbey of Klosterneuberg, near Vienna.
Czech Republic – Open Houses – Page 100
A separate section of the monastery has been converted into a comfortable, 60-room 3-star hotel which is open all year. Accommodation ranges from single and double guestrooms to comfortable, well-appointed apartments. All guestrooms have private bathrooms, telephones and televisions; some have views over the still substantial monastery estate. Conference and seminar facilities are on-site.
Czech Republic – Food and Drink – Page 102
Spa Wafers, a speciality of Mariánské Lázně, have been made by the Kolonáda Company for over 150 years. The wafers are thin enough not to undo any previous good work at the baths and are filled with delicious chocolate or nut paste.
Czech Republic – Pilgrimages – Page 111
The iconic Pilgrim Church of St John of Nepomuk on the Zelena Hill near the town of Žd’ár nad Sázavou, northwest of Brno is a listed UNESCO world heritage site and considered a ‘miracle’ of architectural design. The church was designed by Czech-born architect Giovanni Santini (1677–1723) with encircling cloisters formed in the shape of a 5-pointed star, symbolising the wounds of the crucified Christ. St John Nepomuk is said to have been martyred in 1393 for refusing to reveal details of the Confession of the Catholic Queen of Bohemia. His body was thrown from Prague’s Charles Bridge where 3 centuries later a statue was erected in his honour.
Italy – Page 115
When I eat alone I feel like a seminarian being punished. I tried it for one week and I was not comfortable. Then I searched through Sacred Scripture for something saying I had to eat alone. I found nothing, so I gave it up, and its much better now. Pope John XXIII
Italy – Food and Drink – Page 124
This affordable restaurant is run by a community of Carmelite missionary nuns called Donum Dei. The sisters wait on the tables, serving traditional French-style dishes and a select choice of French wines. Much to the surprise of many guests, the sister who is head chef trained in Paris. The menu generally includes lobster tails, Australian or New Zealand beef, escargot, scallops and French wines from Bordeaux. During the evening there is a short halt in proceedings while the nuns gather together in the dining room to pray briefly and sing Ave Maria. Hymn sheets are handed around and guests are invited to join in the singing. The sisters come from all corners of the world and will sometimes perform a dance in their national dress. Profits from the restaurant are sent to the order’s missions in Kenya, Madagascar and India.
Italy – Open Houses – Page 196
There is an interesting anecdote, the authenticity of which has not been verified. Until quite recently, an Augustinian brother, Fra Romolo OSA, was well known as sacristan of the church. Apparently he refused to make an exception and closed the church door to exclude HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales when he arrived late. It was the monastery’s scheduled afternoon closing time and it was dinner time for the friars.
Italy – Pilgrimages – Page 221
Every Saturday night, from Easter until the end of October, an evening pilgrimage departs from the city, with visitors and tourists invited to participate. The pilgrimage leaves at midnight from the Piazza di Porta Capena, (near the Circus Maximus and the Circo Massimo train station) and reaches the Sanctuary of Madonna del Divino Amore in the early hours of Sunday morning. The route followed (on foot) is along the Via Appia Antica, on to Via Ardeatina and past the Ardeatine Catacombs and the Catacombs of St Callisto to the sanctuary.