We are monks and nuns whom a medieval chronicler compared to trees. The Bible speaks more of a “vine” that God plants and transplants… So there are roots… and wings!
Everybody knows that roots have to be respected so there can be growth: Saint Benedict with his day to day humility, Father Emmanuel of Mesnil-Saint-Loup with his hope of conversion, Saint Bernard Tolomei with his taste for fraternal life, and Saint Frances of Rome with her sense of the Church.
Otherwise there won’t be any fruit! But if you mix these roots, what a perfume! And “the perfume spreads far”, as that same chronicler said…
Even to “a spring in the hollow of a valley” in the Holy Land: the village of Abu Ghosh, where a community takes on flesh and builds its day to day life as men and women together in the rhythm of praise.
But who were the people who gave wings to this community?
Mother Elisabeth de Wavrechin, who became a war widow in 1916, made the decisive discovery during a pilgrimage to Rome in 1919 of monastic life as founded in 1433 by Saint Frances of Rome at the Tor de Specci Monastery, with the support of the Olivetan monks at Santa Maria Nuova.
In 1922, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem raised in her the desire to come and establish a community there as a visible sign of prayer for the unity of Christians.
This spiritual direction, which she inherited from Saint Frances of Rome, and the call to unity, in later years corresponded with the spiritual heritage of the Bec-Hellouin Abbey in Normandy, where monastic life was restored in 1948 and entrusted to the leadership of Father Abbot Paul Grammont.
In his teaching and within the ecumenical movement Father Abbot Paul directed the monks and nuns towards the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity and towards listening to these.
This journey came to blossom in 1976 when Brothers Jean-Baptiste, Charles and Alain were sent to Israel. On May 1, they celebrated their first Mass in the church of Saint Mary of the Resurrection in Abu Ghosh. They were followed in 1977 by Sisters Ignace, Henri and Marie-Joseph.
Forty years later, the two communities are rooted in the Land of Israel and take on their many-sided heritage; there are now seven brothers and fourteen sisters.