Life As A Monk In Medieval Ireland (First Person Account)

Essay by supercheatinglegendA+, January 2006

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Hello my name is Joseph and I am a monk. In a monastery, we help the poor, shelter travellers, look after the sick and teach reading and writing. There are many orders of monks. There is the Benedictines, the Cistercians and the Augustinians. Most of us follow the Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule of Benedict provides a guide to prayer, work and study. When us monks first came to Ireland we founded many monasteries in many different places. Examples of such monasteries are Mellifont Abbey, Co. Louth and Jerpoint Abbey, Co. Kilkenny. The layout, or plan of our monasteries are different from the early Christian monasteries. But our monasteries are similar to those of monasteries in France and other countries in Europe. The main buildings is the church, which faces east-west and is for mass and ceremonies, the almonry, where food is given to the poor, the cloisters, a covered walkway around a garden where we pray, the refectory, or dining-room, the infirmary, where the sick are treated, the dormitory, where we sleep and finally the scriptorium where manuscripts are copied and illustrated.

To become a monk I had to join an order as a novice. I learned the Rule of St. Benedict and helped with work in the monastery. When the abbot (head of the monastery) was satisfied with my work, I became a monk. When I turned from a novice to monk, I took three vows. These vows were: Poverty - that I would give up all my possessions, Chastity - that I would not marry and have children and Obedience - that I would obey the orders of my abbot. As part of the ceremony on becoming a monk, I had part of my head shaved in a tonsure. The principal monks in the...