A Case Study in Benedictine Practices: Barking Abbey

  • Anne Bagnall Yardley
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Ritual observance carries a dual purpose as the transmitter of the tradition of the church universal and of the traditions and practices of a specific locale. The church always enacts its general practices in specifically local ways. This mixture of local and universal rituals is one of the true strengths of the monastic tradition. A nun indeed joins all other professed nuns as the bride of Christ, but she does so in a particular abbey or priory. Her identity is both as Benedictine and as a Barking nun for example. Each identity contributes important parts to her development. From the Benedictines she inherits a regular regimen of worship, study and work, specific liturgical hours and patterns of prayer, and the great body of plainchant. From Barking she inherits tangible specific rituals that bind that particular community together, chants for the local saints, a sense of community history, and the sights and smells of that particular building. So while some consider that the “devil is in the details,” we can expect that perhaps the nuns discovered the divine in the details as well.


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© Anne Bagnall Yardley 2006

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  • Anne Bagnall Yardley

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