25 monks re-buried after 130 years
AFTER three Solemn Requiem Masses and the re-burial of the remains of 25 monks, the "'Fe Deum" was sung on Friday in the church of Mount St. Bernard Cistercian Abbey, Charnwood Forest, Leicester.
The thanksgiving was for the return of a whole community to the order after an absence of 130 years. The bodies bad rested all this time in a little cemetery in Dorset.
Their exhumation and re-burial followed the decision of the Army authorities to use the area for training and gunnery practice. The cemetery is at the rear of a farm-house under the western spur of the Purbeck Hills, about two miles from Lulworth Cove, Mr. Thomas Weld, of Lulworth, founded a monastery in 1795 to receive a community from La Trappe —monks who had been exiled because of the French Revolution. When, just 22 years later, the religious of St. Susan's Abbey, Lulworth, returned to France to found the Abbey of Melleray in Brittany. they left the bodies of the 25 monks— seven of them priests—in the monastery cemetery, a plot of ground hardly more than 12 yards square.
Pair of sandals
The monastery fell into ruins, and was succeeded by "Monastery Farm." A year ago, Lieut.-Colonel J. W. Weld, of East Lulworth, after consulting the Bishop of Plymouth and obtaining the consent of the Abbot of Mount St. Bernard, received a licence from the Home Office and the exhumation was carried out recently with the cooperation of the military authorities by the employees of Colonel Weld's estate.
Little remained except the bones. but a small piece of brown cloth and a pair of sandals were also found.
These remains were placed in two coffins and taken to the 18th-century church of East Lulworth, where Solemn Requiem Mass was offered by Fr. Joseph Lombardi, parish priest, in the presence of about 15 priests, Colonel Weld and about 50 other laity.
After the Mass, the coffins were transferred to the Cistercian Abbey at Staplehill. Here a second Solemn Requiem Mass was offered by the parish priest, Fr. Robert Andras.
Last Friday the coffins were taken by road to Mount St. Bernard Abbey, and on Saturday morning the Abbot sang Pontifical Mass of Requiem. He then officiated at the burial, the coffins being interred one on each side of the grave of Dom Bernard Palmer, first Abbot of Mount Saint Bernard, who was himself a monk at Lulworth.