Saturday, January 15, 2011

Explorations: Pauline Fathers Monastery

Yesterday, I decided it was time to shake the cabin fever, and go out in search of some things to photograph.  I spent nearly an hour driving all over the back roads of Armstrong County before happening upon this.
Entrance to Monastery

Now, for people born and raised in this area, this is probably no big deal, but to me, this was an amazing find.  While I grew up in an area with a lot of Catholic churches, and attended a Catholic graduate school with a monastery on the grounds, this was something altogether different.  This was something I just stumbled upon.  To make two finds like this in one week?  God is definitely leading me.

I drove into the grounds, a bit full of trepidation, not sure if I was supposed to be there or not, but the gates were open, the parking lot plowed, so, I figured, why not take a look around.  I was struck by the simple beauty of the grounds, the snow covered trees.
The forest for the trees

I parked my car and got out to look around.  The actual monastery itself was quite simple, it actually looked like a dormitory.  There were several statues around the main parts of the grounds, one of the Blessed Mother, two of St. Paul, and one of Christ on the Cross.  The only sound that could be heard was the sound of my feet crunching on the snow as I walked around taking pictures.  It was utterly peaceful and serene.
St. Paul detail
Then I spied this building down over the hill a bit.  I was really curious, so I trudged through the snow, at one point even losing my footing, to get a closer look.  It appeared to be a chapel.

Chapel in the woods
I crept closer thinking this was a chapel open for use, and I could enter it to pray.  Unfortunately, it was being used for storage, and I do not think I was supposed to be there, so I did not linger, but I did get a picture or two of some of the amazing items still in there.  
At the foot of the cross
Daily mass is held at the monastery, and I would love to attend sometime.  I plan on going back in the future, during the other seasons of the year, to get additional pictures.  This place is beyond lovely.

To see all the pictures I took that day, not only of the monastery but all over the county, view the photo set here.