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Thursday December 28th 2017Tim Candler9

 

      Saint Teresa of Avila's Carmelite Convent in the county of Saint Barbara is beginning to look a little like a Victorian military barracks. All it needs is the cannon that won the battle of something and a bunch of aggressive looking flags. Could be that the iron discipline of the discalced matches the look, but I was rather hoping for something a little more dainty, if that's the correct word to use around Carmelite nuns. Chimneys help cozy the place a little, few trees might calm the structures down, give them a sense of serenity, but who knows. Always thought of Saint Teresa, one of the guiding lights of the discalced branch of Carmelites, as a bit of a free spirit, the odd random edge in her calling.

 

Past

     The only Carmelite Monastery I've ever seen is the one in the lonely hills near Mount Snowdon in Wales. It looked like an old farm house with outbuildings, all of it well cloistered by walls and solid wooden gates with rusty hinges. Back then of course there was a whole language thing, and the local Presbyterian lads in the pub some miles away made the proud point of telling me the nuns sometimes conducted the holy mass in Welsh. The nuns had moved to north Wales from London 40 years previously, apparently. The other thing I remember being told, was that the nuns wore sandals with woolen socks, BUT when it was wet and muddy, pretty much ten months of the year in that part of the world, some of them had been seen wearing gumboots.

 

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