On Thursday morning, 9 May 2019, the whole of Year 8 paid a visit to St Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough. We were welcomed by the Abbot, Dom Cuthbert Brogan, who gave us a talk in the Abbey Church. Dom Cuthbert began by outlining the links between the Abbey and Farnborough Hill. He explained the reasons for the building of the Abbey as an Imperial Mausoleum by Empress Eugénie for her husband, Napoleon III, and her son, Prince Louis.
Dom Cuthbert then described the life of a monk and explained how his vocation to the religious life came about. He joined the Abbey aged just 18 and has been there for 32 years. In recent years the Abbey has seen new vocations and the 10 monks include members from as far afield as Slovakia, Poland and the Philippines.
The Abbot then answered questions from the girls. These questions ranged from questions about the building, questions about his own vocation and did he miss having a family to more practical questions such as where do they get their food and how do they pay for it? (through work which they do, rents they receive and donations).
Next, we were taken to the Crypt which contains the tombs of the Emperor, the Empress and the Prince Imperial. This was a great opportunity for the girls, who pass the portrait of the Empress almost daily, to see where she is buried.
Finally, the Abbot invited us to join the community for the midday office. This short service, sung in Latin, is one of seven services sung by the monks every day. It was very moving to take part in a service which has taken place in Benedictine abbeys throughout the world for over a thousand years. The girls sat in silence and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere.
The RE Department is very grateful to the Abbot for the tour and his talk and we look forward to seeing him again soon.
Mr Ralph Wellington