This is an historical section of the website. The monastery is no longer open. Please read the INTRODUCTION page. The photographs show: 1. The choir area of the abbey church; 2. The monastic cloister.
We are a community of Benedictine monks living and working on the shores of Loch Ness in the village of Fort Augustus, called Cill Chuimein in Gaelic (viz) after an early abbot of Iona, whose hermitage was in this area. We were members of the English Benedictine Congregation (some still are), whilst remaining an automonous Scottish foundation. This congregation of monks is one of the oldest religious groups in the Western Church and can validly trace an unbroken lineage back to its founder, St Augustine of Canterbury, 1,400 years ago.
Although we belong to the English Benedictine Congregation, we as a community are a continuation of the abbey of Sts Adrian and Denys at Lamspringe near Hanover, a community of English monks, and of the abbey of St James of the Scots at Ratisbon in Bavaria. The latter, although originally founded by Irish monks about 1100, became the home of Scottish Benedictines in exile at the time of the Protestant Reformation (viz). So we are truly representative of these islands.
We have been here at Fort Augustus since 1876, the monastery buildings being adapted from the previous government fort, built by General Wade between 1729 and 1742. Our monastic site has been transformed from a place of military might and oppression to one of spiritual might and peace.
St Benedict, the patron of Europe, is considered to be the Father of Western Monasticism. He lived and worked in central Italy in the first half of the 6th century, dying around the year 547.
His Rule of life, still followed by Benedictine monks, was compiled by him during his time at Subiaco and Monte Cassino. These were the first monasteries of the Benedictine world and are occupied by monastic communities to this day.
Benedictine monasticism has now endured for almost 1,500 years and has been a significant factor in the life of the Church throughout that time, playing a major part in the conversion of the nations to Christianity. To quote Cardinal Gasquet, "Few nations of the modern world would have been converted to Christianity, or tutored in the arts of peace, except through the medium of monasticism." It was not an idle gesture when the Holy Father made St Benedict the patron of Europe.
Work and prayer (viz) are the two great themes which run through Benedictine life. Work can be of almost any nature providing that it fits into the daily timetable and ethos of the community.
Here at Fort Augustus the communitywas involved in Parish work, Retreats and Conferences, Hospitality, Youth Work, Academic Work and the development of a Pastoral Centre. Our day is structured around the prayer of the church, the Divine Office, which is publicly recited in the Abbey Church each day.
Like our monastic forefathers, to whom we owe so much, we are endeavouring to grow in numbers to enable God's work to continue and spread in our lifetime. It is a command from God which we cannot shirk. To carry on this great work, we must bring into our community those whom God has called to this place and to this life.
The only qualification required of those wishing to seek entry into this community is that they should be truly seeking God. The fact that we are a Roman Catholic community means that they must also be Roman Catholics. Of course anyone seeking to enter our Church, and also interested in monastic life, can be assisted in his endeavours. Aspirants, once they have been accepted by the Abbot and community, must spend a short period as a Postulant, then twelve months as a Novice and three years as a monk in Simple Vows, before finally being allowed to take their Solemn Vows, which are binding on them for life. During this period they will be tutored and instructed in spirituality and monastic life. Some, if considered suitable, will be prepared through ecclesiastical studies for ordination to the priesthood. Every candidate is thus prepared for future life and duties within the community.
The world at large often thinks, and sometimes says, that monasteries are places where people go to hide and cut themselves off from the world. But they aren't. We are very much of the world and in the world, and the world in all its forms beats its way to our door. While being in the world, however, we do not choose to adopt the ways of the world, nor the values of the world, especially when they are contrary to the will and law of God.
If you are interested in finding out more about us and our way of life, or if you feel that perhaps God has chosen you to give your life to Him in this way and in this place, then please contact me by #########################.
Father Aelred Grugan OSB, Head of Vocations