Twenty members of Suburban Reviewers Book Club traveled by bus to Saint Benedict, Louisiana, just outside of Covington, to visit Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College on May 3.
A guided tour of the Abbey Church, with its beautiful murals and rich history, was the first order of the day.
In 1946, Abbot Columban Thuis commissioned the benedictine monk, Dom Gregory de Wit, to paint a series of original murals in the Abbey. De Wit had initially painted murals in Baton Rouge's Sacred Heart Church but was immediately fired after the local priest and parishioners disliked his bold paintings, which can be seen in the Abbey Church today.
Thuis liked de Wit's style of art but required him to paint the Monk’s Refectory, or dining hall, to prove his ability to paint in the Abbey. The Dutch monk lived at the Abbey Church for ten years as he painted the extensive murals using paint mixtures that could withstand the humid climate.
Since then, the beautiful paintings on the walls and ceilings have remained well preserved, with critics and visitors continuously lauding praise upon de Wit’s artistry.
Members of the Suburban Reviewers Book Club enjoyed touring the monastery, established in 1889, and the Monk’s Refectory, both of which are currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The club members attended mass at the Abbey and then traveled to Covington for lunch at The Dakota Restaurant.
More about the Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary College
The Seminary College has educated many of the region’s civic and religious leaders, such as Father Brent Maher, son of Marian Miller Landry and Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry who graduated from the seminary in 2006.
The Abbey is self-sufficient, growing crops and building wooden caskets for sale. It also sells Abbee Honey and Monk Soap and Candles in the Abbey Gift Shop.
There is also the Abbey Art Works, which provides art instruction to the public, and other regular charities. The monks bake nearly 1,000 loaves of bread a week for the needy in the New Orleans Metro area. Donations from the public help to finance the project.