The Community: Founded in 1802
Holy Cross Abbey was formally founded at Stapehill in Dorset on the Feast of all Saints of the Order on 13th November 1802. The founding group of women was led by Madame Augustin de Chabannes, a professed sister of the Parisian Abbey of Saint Antoine. She had been imprisoned in the Bastille, escaping when the Bastille was stormed, fleeing to Switzerland and a brief respite at La Val Sainte, before joining the monastic odyssey, which took the refugees across Europe in search of asylum. Madame de Chabannes with a small group of sisters came to England and were given a land to start a monastery in Dorset.
Madame de Chabannes understood the way of the Cross and the suffering of Christ. She entrusted Holy Cross Abbey to Our Lady of Sorrows. In the 1820s many young sisters died (probably from tuberculosis) an enquiry decreed that the Community should come under the jurisdiction of the local Bishop instead of the Order which was very fragmented at this time. In 1915, the Community was brought back into the Order.
In 1932 the Stapehill Community founded St Mary's Abbey, Glencairn in Ireland, the Stapehill Abbess becoming the first Abbess at Glencairn. There are now five generations of Cistercian monasteries: Holy Cross Abbey Whitland Wales, St Mary's Abbey Glencairn Ireland, Mount St Mary's Abbey Wrentham USA, Our Lady of Mississippi USA and Tautra Mariakloster Norway.
The Community: Present Day
In January 1991, the Community moved from Stapehill to the present location at Whitland in Wales, formally the site of Waungron Farm Motel, just across the valley from the old Whitland Abbey founded in 1151 by Monks of Clairvaux France when St Bernard was the abbot.
Since then, building and renovation works gradually transformed the motel into a monastery. The monastic church was refurbished and dedicated in 2011 which completed the building work.
The original farm land has been developed and we now have a market garden consisting of polytunnels and allotment beds for soft fruit and vegetables.
The Community earns its living by making altar breads for Parishes, Churches, other Communities and Schools across the UK.
We welcome guests to enjoy the peace and quiet of our monastery, to join our Mass and Divine Office.
As a small community, we live joyfully praising the Lord.