Tag Archives: Regina Laudis Abbey

The Crèche at Regina Laudis: The Timeless story of a birth in Bethlehem …

crèche Regina Laudis.JPG

If the crèche at
the Abbey of
Regina Laudis
strikes you as a little out place, there’s a good
reason. The austere Yankee barn that houses it is a world away from its previous
home. Handcrafted by artisans in Naples, the intricate nativity scene was
presented as a coronation gift to Victor Amadeus II, king of Sardina, in 1720.
It remained among Italian nobility until it was purchased by Loretta Hines
Howard, an artist and collector, in 1949. She immediately donated it to what
was then a fledgling Benedictine Abbey in, fittingly, Bethlehem, Connecticut
(although the nuns insist the name is a coincidence). 

The crèche takes a few
liberties with the traditional nativity story. Instead of a Judean village,
Bethlehem appears here somewhere on the coast of Italy. The stable has been
replaced by Corinthian columns, and the traditional kings and shepherds are
joined by a whole host of other characters, who have shed their New Testament
robes for 18th-century knickers and coats. In one corner, some
peasants argue over the contents of a stem pot. In another, a noblewoman walks
her whippet on a leash. The crowd is puzzling at first, though it may
serve  a distinct purpose. “For as
many people as there are, there are attitudes toward the birth of Christ,” says
Sister Angèle Arbib, who helps care for the crèche. She points out some figures
who seems reverential, others who seem distracted or dis-believing: “It’s so
representative. When people come here to see the crèche, they identify with
someone in here.”

And people of all faiths do come to see it. The mass of
Christmas pilgrims has returned after a recent restoration had taken the crèche
out of public view for three years. Conservators from New York’s Metropolitan
Museum of Art painstakingly repaired each of the 68 figures and the tiny
hand-sewn outfits they wear. The results are stunning. The crèche now stands as
a testament to the continued support of the community of nuns,
preservationists, and believers that has formed around it. It’s fitting. After
all, what is a nativity other than a story of people coming together?



November/December, Vol. 74, No. 6.

Abbey of Regina Laudis

273 Flanders Road

Bethlehem, CT

The crèche is open to the public daily 10-4 through Jan. 5 (closed Jan. 6-Apr. 24)


Some pictures today

I went to Mass this morning at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT and then spent the morning meeting with Mother Lucia. We had a wonderful conversation about life, God, Church, monastic life. My father brought home the finished replica of the 1910 Flying Merkel. Some pictures follow (more of the abbey on the flikr page)

no incense.JPG
Dad & Mom with Merkel Sept 2 2010.JPG
more Merkel-f.JPG

The holiness of created matter … an appreciation of the Benedictine approach

Carving-Candle.jpgThe Benedictine nuns of The Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, have for several years run a monastic intern program where people come to live the life of the nuns, explore their vocation, gain a fuller appreciation of creation and experience healing (even if the healing isn’t sought). The rhythms of life the nuns have are suited to being more humane and educative. The participants in the monastic internship program are not necessarily thinking of becoming nuns and priests, many pursue their life’s calling as they know it by being teachers, doctors, lawyers or farmers.

A recent monastic intern, Brenna Cussen, wrote an essay on her experience, her desires and the calling she’s received in “Craft and the Holiness of Matter.” Scroll to the bottom of the webpage for the essay.

Visiting Bethlehem: the Abbey of Regina Laudis

Abbey of Regina Laudis chapel int.jpgOne of the blessings in Connecticut is the presence of Abbey of Regina Laudis, a monastery of nearly 40 Benedictine nuns in the hills of Litchfield, County (in the Archdiocese of Hartford). Looking out in the choir there were 5 white veil novices and 1 postulant among the other professed nuns.

I went to the abbey with Father Ignacio today so that he could celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass for the nuns since they are without a resident chaplain. Father Ignacio is a newly ordained priest of the Bridgeport Diocese currently serving at Saint Rose of Lima Church (Newtown, CT). Mass at the abbey follows the Mass of Pope Paul VI, also called the Novus Ordo (the new Order [Mass]). Often Mass is celebrated using the Latin language except for the Scripture readings and homily. However, the Mass is often in English with the Latin chants.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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