May, 2010

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Gregorian Chant and the essence of Victorian England… stay at this monastery for a voluntary contribution

Friday, May 7th, 2010

The Abbey was the subject of one of the Canterbury Tales. See page 169 in LODGING IN BRITAIN'S MONASTERIES.

Overlooking the sea from a hill, the Abbey is an oasis of peace and tranquility. The Abbey was the subject of one of the Canterbury Tales as well as a song of Dryden and an ode by one of the popes. Some of the nuns live in seclusion and are renown for Gregorian chant that accompanies daily mass. The origins of Gregorian chant can be traced to early Christian times and seem to have derived from musical practice in the Jewish synagogue and Greek musical theory. Named for Pope Gregory I, it is also known as plainsong or plainchant and refers to early unharmonized melody in free rhythm but is usually synonymous with the liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church. In the Western church there were four main dialects of plainsong but only two have survived. Ambrosian Chant was introduced by St. Ambrose into the cathedral of Milan and is still used in that diocese. In the 19th century, the Benedictine Monks of Solesmes undertook many years of research to restore the Gregorian Chant to its original form and establish its proper rhythm. In 1903 Pope Pius X decreed the use of the chant in the Solesmes version as the official music of the Catholic Church.

The Abbey is situated on the Isle of Wight, a place famous for The Needles, three towers of rock jutting out of the sea and admired for their multi-colored cliffs and sand. Quaint villages, a lovely coastline and the fact that Queen Victoria made Osborne House her summer home all contributed to the island’s popularity as a holiday resort attracting fashionable Victorians and members of European royalty.

The lovely Isle of Wight is diamond in shape with a remarkable diverse landscape leading to its oft-quoted description of “England in Miniature.” The island is also noted as an important area for finding dinosaur fossils.

For more information visit: Monasteriesofbritain.com

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A World Heritage Site and the cradle of the French Renaissance mark this intriguing region. Lodging at the Sanctuaire… only $15

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

The monastery's site has been a place of pilgrimage since1877.

The Sanctuaire is positioned in a small village in the hilly countryside separating the basins of the rivers Indre and Cher. The town preserves a handsome 12th century Romanesque church and several ancient chateaux.

The town of Bourges is a short distance away. At the geographical heart of France, the Gallo-Roman town retains ancient walls and rich historical foundation. The past is evident in the maze of paved stone streets, medieval and Renaissance architecture and vestiges of ancient ramparts. The city is also home to the extraordinary French Gothic masterpiece, the Cathedral of St-Etienne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A handsome edifice it is replete with five sculpted portals on the west façade while the interior features a soaring nave, an unbroken line of columns and medieval stained glass windows.

Also near the sanctuary is Tours, chief town of the Loire valley. The original home of the French language, the capital is rich with history and a well-preserved heritage. It was in Tours in 732 that Charles Martel halted the Moorish conquest of Europe. Martel’s halt of the invasion turned the tide of Islamic advances. Tours was also the cradle of the first French Renaissance. In the atmospheric old quarter, around the pedestrianized place Plumereau, the medieval lanes are fronted by an array of 12th to 15th century half-timbered houses, stairway towers, bustling cafes, boutiques and galleries.

For more information visit monasteriesoffrance.com

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