Sunday Morning at our Monastery
On Sunday morning I had a tour out to the cloistered monastery in the hinterlands around Atotonilco. I frequently visit during the week as the monastery has a unique energy, friendly monk and a chapel filled with fascinating art. Unless the chapel is being rented for a fifteenth birthday or wedding, weekdays are calm and contemplative. Sunday mornings are not.
The monastery is named for Mary of Solitude, a version of Mary celebrated the Saturday before Easter when Jesus has died on Good Friday and doesn’t come back until Easter Sunday. That Saturday Mary is all alone in this world and the Oratorio church in town is filled with women dressed in black keeping Mary company in her mourning before leading a sunset procession in towering high heels.
The monastery to Mary of Solitude follows Benedictine rules. St. Benedict is featured on the most common medal you’ll see in San Miguel, seen on cop cars, buses, men’s biceps as tattoos and women’s jewelry surrounded by rubies and diamonds. The medal has St. Benedict on one side and a plus sign surrounding letters on the other. The letters are an acronym for a prayer in Latin by St. Benedict to keep the devil away.
The medal is featured in stores around town attached to a plant because if you are the owner of the business you want to keep the devil away. I’ve a custom made St. Benedict statue laced with his medals on a shelf in my garage that has done a banner job keeping evil out of my home.
St. Benedict medals are available in the store at the monastery manned by the most gregarious cloistered clergy I’ve even met, Jonas. So chatty, the young Jonas is quite fond of the app What’sUp. But on a Sunday morning he sells all he has: statues, water, rosaries, etc. to be blessed following the mass. Also, you can wait your turn to be blessed by a St. Benedict’s medal to the head by one of the monks. Regardless of your faith or personal beliefs, it is a moving experience.
Feel free to reciprocate the kindness with homemade cookies and brownies. Skinny clergy lads, like yoga and Pilate instructors, can’t resist siren’s call of barked goods.
Buses come to the monastery on Sundays from all over Mexico with folks in wheelchairs and hospital beds to be blessed by a monk from Argentina believed to have the healing powers of touch. Before a surgery, a wise person from San Miguel will go out to the monastery in hopes of being blessed by this monk.
With the huge influx of pilgrims, nuns serve comida and the monastery’s campus is hopping.
Often, following a morning long tour of the origins of San Miguel including the Silver Route, San Miguel Viejo, the Sanctuary in Atotonilco and the monastery we’ll drop off folks at Muro’s in Obraje. Brunch is a specialty at Muro’s! This tour wanted to quote “Eat where the natives do.” so I took them to the intersection in Ciengieta where you cross the bridge to head towards the airport in Guanajuato.
Under a huge walnut tree, Carolina, a gal that once cleaned for me two mornings a week, started her restaurant so we went there. Carolina is a great cook who has a flowering plant on every table featuring a St. Benedict medal to keep the devil away from her business!