– A new BBC series will depict the daily life of Benedictine monks in a few UK monasteries, taking camera crews to capture a lifestyle normally hidden from the public’s eye.
A three episode mini-series called “Retreat: Meditations from the Monastery,” the broadcast will explore the life of three different abbeys: Downside, Belmont, and Pluscarden.
Produced without a narrator, the series aims to portray the quiet contemplation of the monks’ daily routines using only the natural sounds of the monasteries. Viewers will be able to experience the sights and sounds of meals, Gregorian chants, and gardens.
The series will focus on the Benedictine motto: ‘Ora et Labora’ (prayer and work), by following a few monks engaged in manual labor at the monastery.
Airing on Oct. 24, the first episode will follow the activities of the 14 monks at Downside Abbey in the county of Somerset, England. This episode will accompany a priest while he builds a traditional prayer desk, and a monk who bakes bread for the monastery.
In addition to the television series, BBC Radio 3 will release podcasts from Oct. 23-27, expanding on Benedictine spiritual life.
Downside Abbey is home to the Basilica of St. Gregory the Great, one of England’s three minor basilicas.
In 1606, the Benedictine community of St. Gregory the Great was founded by British monks in Douai, then part of the Spanish Netherlands, because of a prohibition on monastic life in Britain following the Reformation. The monastery was expelled from Douai by anti-Catholic French Revolutionaries, and in 1795, the monks were given permission to move their monastery to England.