The life of a Monk at Whalley Abbey

Whalley Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey. The Cistercians had broken away from the Benedictine order because they felt that Benedictines lived much too comfortable lives. Cistercians lived very simple lives. They worked hard, had just one proper meal a day, perhaps with fish or meat on special days, there were few rooms with a fire, and, in the 1100's, a Monk was lucky to live beyond 25. Things were a little better by the time Whalley Abbey was built.

A Choir Monk's day was divided into three parts, the worship in Church (the Opus Dei, or the Work of God), manual work in the fields and reading. The first Church service was at about 2am and the last around 10pm. Shifts of Monks kept prayer going throughout all 24 hours. A few Choir Monks were also ordained as priests, as only priests can celebrate Mass.

The Choir Monks could not do all the manual work themselves. They were helped by Lay Brothers who, because they could not read, could not become Choir Monks. They worshiped in a separate part of the Church and lived in separate buildings.

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