Friday Fun: Monastic Retreats

When I was in my early teens, I had a craving to become a nun. Not so much for reasons of faith, but because I kept thinking what fun it must be to have plenty of time to read, write, meditate and perhaps do a spot of gardening. Of course, in the meantime, I have realised that modern monastic communities do far more than that. And yet, when I see pictures such as these, I want to go on a retreat there for several weeks, if not months.

St Mary’s Monastery in Perth, Scotland, from TripAdvisor.
Metochi Monastery in Lesvos, Greece, has been rented out as a study centre for the University of Agder in Norway, from
The Swiss monastery of Kappel am Albis is a place where I once ran a training workshop over several days – the food was brilliant too! From Cityseeker.
The Chartreusian monasteries are among the strictest in the world – you are practically locked up in your cell – still, when the cell looks like this, I wouldn’t mind. Photo credit Nico Angleys on Twitter, from the Grand Chartreux Monastery.
The Abbaye de Lerin runs revision sessions for high school students preparing their Baccalaureate. It’s on an island near Cannes, so there is no escape. Photo credit: Jean-Jacques Giordan.
A very modern Benedictine monastery, Mucknell Abbey in Worcestershire was built on the site of an old farm. From
Combining two of my favourite things: South Africa and Buddhism, this Buddhist retreat near Durban is a dream – and has accommodation ranging from the basic to the luxurious. Photo credit: Chantelle Flores, from

13 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Monastic Retreats”

  1. Very tempting Marina Sofia, but I think I’m in a retreat state of mind at the moment! The least appealing is the one it would be easiest for me to get to, in Worcestershire. The one in Greece or on the island near Cannes look gorgeous!

  2. Not sure I like the idea of retreats, Marina. Having lived on my own for some time was a retreat of sorts. I didn’t like it but at least I managed to complete an MA while working. If you had become a nun, you wouldn’t have had your wonderful sounding boys…

  3. This is a particularly interesting “Friday fun”, because the various photos are of places one stops to look at…. seriously, while thinking of what going there really is about. They’re all suprising, especially the last two.

  4. Oh, these all look so wonderful, Marina Sofia! Getting away for a bit sounds very tempting, too! I think my choice would be the one in Greece, but the one in Switzerland is soooooo appealing! I always feel I could get so much thinking and writing done in a place like that.

  5. I don’t think I would cope well with a retreat unless it was one where you were able to talk! It’s a toss up for me between Abbaye de Lerin and the Durban cabins on stilts

  6. Hmm, another point in common? I actually was one for 20 years – a Trappistine, mostly a life of silence, believe it or not, lol.
    My monastery was not as pretty, though not too bad – built in 1929, on the site of a 13th century one: (the bottom left part is actually for the guests, if you want to go on a retreat there (not far from Reims, en Champagne)

    1. That looks fabulous – yes, I would certainly not mind going there for a while… What made you decide to leave the order, if you don’t mind my asking? You must have been quite young when you joined?

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