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Trappist Monks: Living Through the Labor of Their Hands

Sep 24, 2011

by Linzee McCray

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The first funeral I attended was my grandmother’s. She died unexpectedly and my family flew from California to Minnesota for the service. My sharpest memory of that day is following her casket down the aisle as we left the church. I was mortified that my family and I, eyes red from sobbing, had to face the congregants who’d gathered in the pews to honor my grandmother. I couldn’t really believe that the bawdy, book-loving outdoorswoman I loved was in that shiny box.

I’ve been to many funerals and visitations since then and watched other families trail behind their loved one’s caskets. Only once did I ever notice the casket itself — a pine box lovingly crafted by a family friend. Its simplicity, and knowing it was made by hand, gave it a resonance that made me look twice — it was the first time I recall thinking that a casket seemed just right.

These memories came back to me during a visit to the 150-year-old New Melleray Abbey near Peosta, Iowa. Since 1999, when the Federal Trade Commission passed a consumer protection law enabling clients to bring their own flowers, food, and caskets to a funeral home, rather than having to purchase them from the home, the monks have used the wood from their forest to create Trappist Caskets.

Linzee McCray

Casket in sales area.

Sam Mulgrew, general manager of Trappist Caskets, showed me around the building where the caskets are made and sold. It’s across the road from the monastery, which at its population height in 1950 housed 135 monks of the Cistercian Trappist order. Mulgrew says though today that number is far fewer — around 40 — New Melleray is a healthy, vital community. I asked him why the monks chose this unusual means of support.

The Trappists‘ mandate is to live by the labor of their hands,” says Mulgrew. “They don’t fundraise or run schools or hospitals. They live a self-contained life of prayer. Making caskets is a good psychological and spiritual fit. Death is about moving on, going to a different place, and the monks spend a lot of time thinking about these things. These caskets reflect the quiet, simple life led by the monks and allows them to offer a part of their lives symbolically. It is a good fit in the material sense, too, as they have a 1200-acre hardwood forest that supplies them with the raw materials.”

Linzee McCray

Inside the casket workshop.

The caskets were originally made in the old farm buildings that dot the monastery grounds. But uneven floors, inadequate heating and cooling, and other health and safety issues made it difficult to produce enough caskets to meet demand. Four years ago they constructed a building of the same honey-colored limestone as the monastery across the road, and here they produce caskets and urns in a modern workshop.

“The monks don’t live to make caskets,” says Mulgrew. “Making caskets enables them to live the life they’ve chosen.”

That life includes a regimented daily schedule focused on prayer, work, and study that is based on the Rule of St. Benedict. The monks rise at 3:15 each morning and gather seven times throughout the day for prayer, as well as engage in silent, reflective prayer. While some monks produce caskets, others cook, do electrical and plumbing work, and take care of accounting and reservations for the eighteen rooms the monastery offers to visitors for contemplative retreats.

The monks who make caskets work alongside hired employees, and on a walk through the workshop it was impossible to tell who was a monk and who lives in town. While no radios blared classic rock, the sound of saws largely disguised the quiet and the only clue that this was not your average shop were the crucifixes and religious icons on the walls. Mulgrew pointed out an area above the main work floor where novices — monks undergoing the discernment process — worked in solitude and silence.

Linzee McCray

Interior of the church at New Melleray Abbey.

“We’re not an automated shop in the way that a contemporary cabinet factory is,” says Mulgrew, who greeted workers by name as we moved about the shop floor. “We rely on a lot of workmanship. Each board is examined to determine whether it would be best used as a panel or a rail. There’s more focus and attention to detail than in a high-volume industry. We don’t try to hide our joinery with trim work as is done with caskets that are quickly trimmed. Making a casket is a slow process — it takes from eight to eighteen hours. There are cheaper ways to make them, but for us it’s about the process. Our approach to woodworking is very integrated with everything else in the monk’s life and the work is done with the end use in mind.”

Annually, the organization sells about 1,600 caskets and 500 urns to devout Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Activist and statesman Sargent Shriver was buried in a Trappist Casket, as was scientist James Van Allen. The monks supplied a casket for the burial of Christina Green, the Arizona girl killed by the gunman who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “At our discretion, we donate children’s caskets,” says Mulgrew. “Many families do pay for them, but we have a fund that people can donate to, to support those who aren’t able to pay.”

While Trappist Caskets are simple — there are four basic models in four types of wood: cherry, pine, oak, and walnut — there is an increased interest in customization. A section of the workshop is devoted to laser engraving and plaques with the deceased’s name, birth and death dates etched and affixed to caskets and urns. Crosses with the name of the deceased, often made from the same wood as the casket, can be constructed as keepsakes for family members. Trappist Caskets has an affiliation with Notre Dame University and the Knights of Columbus and crafts caskets with the appropriate organizational insignia. Clients from around the country order caskets and urns — during my visit three caskets were loaded into a truck for the 100-mile drive to Decorah, Iowa, and others awaited air shipment to the East and West coasts.

Linzee McCray

Laser engraving samples.

While some caskets are sold on a “pre-need” basis, around 200 more are kept in ready inventory. The monks pray over each casket and urn before they are shipped, and for each one sold a tree is planted in the carefully managed monastery forest. The monks conduct a mass in remembrance of the deceased and each name is entered in a memorial prayer book.

“There is a deep sacramental component to our business,” Mulgrew says.

Linzee McCray

Casket blessing on shop wall.

The goal of Trappist Caskets is not unceasing expansion, but to provide sustenance for monastery life. The Abbot, Father Brendan Freeman, notes in his introduction to the monastery’s history that, since it was founded, New Melleray Abbey has stood apart from the world around it. “America has always been a society driven by money. A monastery sinking roots deep into Iowa soil aspires to a different dream, a different set of values. We do not try to compete with what drives our culture. We avoid politics, industry, and involvement in movements. We are simply here in this one dear place to pray for all the people and to praise God.”

A different dream, a different set of values, enabled by caskets.

3 Featured Comments

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 6 years ago Featured

    I really enjoyed that story. Love their work ethic that isn't tied to just making money, but crafting something beautiful. I've visited a monastery where they make Monk's Bread. The quiet atmosphere and and beautiful grounds were really inspiring.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 6 years ago Featured

    So much nicer than the cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf, mass-produced variety of casket & lovely to see something meaningful made with meaning & I especially like that they plant a tree every time. We have a monastery near here, famous for its wine & honey. Here in the UK there's been a recent movement towards "green burials" with wicker coffins or even cardboard in a woodland cemetary with no marker stones, just a tree above each grave & the occasional bench for people to sit & contemplate... is that something that's happening in the US?

  • lju999

    lju999 said 6 years ago Featured

    A beautiful article. I have read through it twice and marvel at the peaceful feelings that have settled over me. Everything that is born must die. That the remains of our mortal life are treated with grace is comforting to our loved ones left behind. After all, the funeral is for the living, not the dead. Thank you for sharing.

141 comments

  • beliz82

    beliz82 said 6 years ago

    Great story Thank you for sharing :)

  • AudreysBrush

    AudreysBrush said 6 years ago

    Very impressive. Thanks for the article.

  • heleendogge

    heleendogge said 6 years ago

    very unexpected and very nice Sort of a taboo subject in plain daylight and in a very kind way, thank you for sharing

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Sad and yet a beautiful story.

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Sad but yet a beautiful story.

  • whichgoose

    whichgoose said 6 years ago

    Love this quote: “The monks don’t live to make caskets ... Making caskets enables them to live the life they’ve chosen.”

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 6 years ago Featured

    I really enjoyed that story. Love their work ethic that isn't tied to just making money, but crafting something beautiful. I've visited a monastery where they make Monk's Bread. The quiet atmosphere and and beautiful grounds were really inspiring.

  • blessedvintage

    blessedvintage said 6 years ago

    what a lovely place, i love that they pray over the casket before it goes. i live in az and had no idea about the young girls casket. blessings

  • blessedvintage

    blessedvintage said 6 years ago

    what a lovely story. I love that they pray over the casket before it leaves. I live in az and had no idea that they young lady who was killed recieved one of these caskets. What an honor to be buried in one of these. blessings

  • jibbyandjuna

    jibbyandjuna said 6 years ago

    Excellent article!

  • QueenBeeVintiques

    QueenBeeVintiques said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story about an unusual subject, thank you for sharing it...the blessing prayer that the monks use is very touching as well.

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 6 years ago

    Thanks for this article. I enjoyed reading it.

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 6 years ago

    Very good insight into a different way of living. It feels good to read this type of article as it shows real people who live a decent, respectful, away from the craziness life.

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 6 years ago

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 6 years ago

    Beautiful work, love the crosses, it's nice to take time to reflect throught our busy days and give thanks to the Creator who gives us the gift of our special talents and tasks.

  • AccentsandPetals2

    AccentsandPetals2 said 6 years ago

    Beautiful post.Thank you for sharing.

  • metalicious

    metalicious said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful and peaceful view they have about life and death, thank you for sharing such an inspirational story.

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I love the idea of the mass and prayers and a tree being planted for each casket sold. Also like the idea that you can donate to a fund for children's caskets.

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 6 years ago

    Very much a part of the wheel of life. As the Shakers professed: Work as if this were your last day, work as if you had a thousand years. Right livelihood is indeed work that supports a well chosen way of living, not the other way around. We all have this choice.

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story, amazing work. Monica TheIDConnection

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing.

  • NobleTextiles

    NobleTextiles said 6 years ago

    Beautiful article!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 6 years ago Featured

    So much nicer than the cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf, mass-produced variety of casket & lovely to see something meaningful made with meaning & I especially like that they plant a tree every time. We have a monastery near here, famous for its wine & honey. Here in the UK there's been a recent movement towards "green burials" with wicker coffins or even cardboard in a woodland cemetary with no marker stones, just a tree above each grave & the occasional bench for people to sit & contemplate... is that something that's happening in the US?

  • VintageMaryT

    VintageMaryT said 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for the telling of this story in your wonderful way!

  • birdie1

    birdie1 said 6 years ago

    Lovely post ~ thank you. I want one of those caskets - but not yet.

  • Lambsears

    Lambsears said 6 years ago

    A very nice article. It is nice to know that you can still get simple caskets in this world filled will excess and frivolity.

  • purplmama

    purplmama said 6 years ago

    Thank you sooo very much for this story. This has touched me profoundly... Today is going to be a good day!

  • BlueMoonLights

    BlueMoonLights said 6 years ago

    Very nice article, thank you for sharing.

  • lju999

    lju999 said 6 years ago Featured

    A beautiful article. I have read through it twice and marvel at the peaceful feelings that have settled over me. Everything that is born must die. That the remains of our mortal life are treated with grace is comforting to our loved ones left behind. After all, the funeral is for the living, not the dead. Thank you for sharing.

  • larkspurfunnyfarm

    larkspurfunnyfarm said 6 years ago

    Such a blessing - Thank you for sharing the loving way of the monks and to show that care, love and handcraftmanship has more then a monetary purpose in life. Be Well and again thank you for sharing

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart said 6 years ago

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Simplycutestuff

    Simplycutestuff said 6 years ago

    Thank you for writing this! What an odd subject to find so uplifting, but I did.

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch said 6 years ago

    I found this very touching indeed. What a gift to know that the casket comes with the prayers of God's servants.

  • blainedesign

    blainedesign said 6 years ago

    What an unusual and beautiful story. As was said in one of the comments above, I feel more peaceful for having read it. What a special take on the handmade life. Great article.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Had no idea that monks made caskets. I thought they only did baking, jam and wines. Great article!

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 6 years ago

    I love these articles that feature labors of love, pride and beauty. Thanks etsy for making it accessible.

  • Northernleather

    Northernleather said 6 years ago

    There is so much to learn from these monks! What a fantastic story of history, faith and sustainability. Thanks for this!

  • xenya

    xenya said 6 years ago

    Wonderful feature.

  • marysworkshop

    marysworkshop said 6 years ago

    This is such a wonderful article explaining the monks simply beautiful contemplative lifestyle.

  • smoothpebble

    smoothpebble said 6 years ago

    thank you etsy for this story! it seems to me people can choose thoughtful, and intentional lives all the way to the very end. the fact that these are made in such a reverential way again marks the difference between handmade and mass-produced. well done!

  • HouseOfMoss

    HouseOfMoss said 6 years ago

    The contemplative craftsmanship of monks has always been inspiring to me. How beautiful to apply this to an object as significant as a casket! Thank you for highlighting this. Thank you also for including my felted wool Buddhist monk among the related items. I'm truly honored.

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage said 6 years ago

    what amazing craftsmanship. thanks for sharing your story.

  • AuracaunaDesigns

    AuracaunaDesigns said 6 years ago

    lovely. My Father-in-Law was just killed in a tragic accident and one of our family members made his casket... it is so comforting to know he is wrapped in our love forever... and not in some mass-produced box. We were even able to use some of his own materials... Thank you for this article...

  • BodyLuminosity

    BodyLuminosity said 6 years ago

    Beautiful and touching article.

  • mbrignall

    mbrignall said 6 years ago

    Lovely article!

  • westernartglass

    westernartglass said 6 years ago

    I've enjoyed the labor of the Trappist monks from Belgium and The Netherlands (Rochefort, Chimay, Koningshoeven--taste the silence) throughout my journey through life. This is a delightful piece, eh? and worth a second glance--my slightly rumpled carcass takes note.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    these monks are amazing.

  • carolyngallo

    carolyngallo said 6 years ago

    wonderful. THANK YOU for sharing this!

  • slappytheseal

    slappytheseal said 6 years ago

    fabulous post!

  • SimpleThymePrims

    SimpleThymePrims said 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful post...thank you!

  • ArtandArtisan

    ArtandArtisan said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! This is a beautiful essay and something I wish I had known about much earlier.

  • metronomic1

    metronomic1 said 6 years ago

    I wonder if they can make one lined in foam to keep my booze cold?

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 6 years ago

    Wonderful post. Thank you !

  • swingkatsvintage

    swingkatsvintage said 6 years ago

    Beautiful and inspiring story~ A blessing to anyone of any faith and a reflection each of us can ponder in a quest to quiet our minds in this very fast paced world in which we live :) Thank you for sharing!

  • superstore1

    superstore1 said 6 years ago

    Beautiful

  • 1samone

    1samone said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story, thank you! It's beautiful that the monks pray over each and every casket. Then planting a tree after each one is sold is pure thoughtfulness coming full circle. These monks exude peace of heart!!! Bravo and God Bless!

  • swingkatsvintage

    swingkatsvintage said 6 years ago

    Added the link to the Abbey to my favorites on my web page. Now that I know about their fund for children's caskets it will be a blessing to spread that information! Thank you again~

  • crownring

    crownring said 6 years ago

    Beautiful...........in so many ways.

  • DIVINEconsciousness

    DIVINEconsciousness said 6 years ago

    Such a loving inspiration to all of us! Just wonderful!

  • RubeesNest

    RubeesNest said 6 years ago

    How wonderful that they provide children's caskets to families in need. It gives my heart wings when I hear about unsolicited generosity like that. Thank YOU for this post.

  • CarriesCustomDesigns

    CarriesCustomDesigns said 6 years ago

    A lovely story. It must be a comfort to families to know that a casket was made with such faith and love.

  • peaseblossomstudio

    peaseblossomstudio said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful inspiring article!

  • Curlgirl64

    Curlgirl64 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing the article. You have given a view of people who are making a difference in their own quiet way that is truly apprecited and respected.

  • GetOutOfTheBox

    GetOutOfTheBox said 6 years ago

    Touched my soul.....

  • yogiodie

    yogiodie said 6 years ago

    I have driven through their grounds and it is as impressive outside as it looks inside. I live 35 miles away and now MUST see the inside! This has always been my wish to have a urn/casket made by the monks. Awesome story-well done....

  • KristiKringle

    KristiKringle said 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this lovely information. I was just at a memorial service yesterday where a friend had picked out his own beautiful urn in advance - so even though his sudden death was unexpected, his family knew what he wanted. I went to these monk's website as a result of your wonderful article and loved the idea that you could purchase what you want in advance, as then your family is freed from having to make those kind of decisions while grieving.

  • josiekatstrunk

    josiekatstrunk said 6 years ago

    Thank you for featuring a faith-based story in such a creative and positive manner. It means a lot me.

  • vintagebutterfly94

    vintagebutterfly94 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this moving post. I have to wonder what may result of it as it is tucked into thoughts and memories for a time to come....

  • jennyblasenpottery

    jennyblasenpottery said 6 years ago

    Love this--my sister lives less than a mile from this monastery. It is a beautiful place!

  • MieleMelograno

    MieleMelograno said 6 years ago

    Thank you for writing this article! I grew up not too far from here. While I never visited the humble beauty and love poured into each piece is something I've always known about. They are pieces of art for the soul.This article brought me to tears, in joyful remembering those loved and passed in Iowa. Again thank you for this article!

  • UUPP

    UUPP said 6 years ago

    Thank you for such a great article. I like the thought of such peace filled people making something for others. But also the fact that it is so meaningful for them that they take the time to pray over each item.

  • ImagineThatCustDesig

    ImagineThatCustDesig said 6 years ago

    Awesome! what these Trappist Monks are doing.Such a Touching Article. Thanks Linzee McCray

  • DeAnnaClaudette

    DeAnnaClaudette said 6 years ago

    What a beautifully touching story.

  • impressionsbyjanelle

    impressionsbyjanelle said 6 years ago

    This was a very inspirational story. I love hearing anything related to the Rule of St. Benedict. Thank you.

  • FreshRetroGallery

    FreshRetroGallery said 6 years ago

    Reminds me of the sacrificial love of my LORD and Savior, the carpenter's son. God bless these carpenters of today.

  • randomretro

    randomretro said 6 years ago

    thank you for this wonderful article..

  • sweetteabyme

    sweetteabyme said 6 years ago

    This is a great article and I love the comparison to the 'shiny box'. Inspiring.

  • fiona74

    fiona74 said 6 years ago

    In a world full of busy-ness it is heartwarming to find the Trappist Monks managing to live their vocation and add their contemplative quietness to their casket making and tree husbandry at the same time. Growing the wood for the caskets, choosing the appropriate timber piece, praying over each one- what a wonderful casket to be able to farewell a loved one in when that time comes. Totally a from the earth and then back to the earth cycle. Bless you for sharing this inspiring article.

  • danielfranklin

    danielfranklin said 6 years ago

    Makes me wonder if Jesus made caskets.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Great story

  • MissingHeirloom

    MissingHeirloom said 6 years ago

    danielfranklin I am guessing that answer is yes. As a carpenter he would have made furniture and cabinets - and yes part of that is caskets. Only until recently (last 90 years approx.) caskets were all part of the cabinetry/furniture making 'industry', and many furniture stores sold caskets.

  • MelanieDrew

    MelanieDrew said 6 years ago

    so lovely

  • MissingHeirloom

    MissingHeirloom said 6 years ago

    danielfranklin the answer is most likely yes. Only until recently (the last 90 years or so) did casket companies exist. Up until that time, furniture carpenters made furniture, cabinets and caskets. At the same time caskets were also sold in furniture stores - because it was all a part of the carpentry trade.

  • MissPattisAttic

    MissPattisAttic said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this story of the monks and how they make caskets. I just love the fact that they pray over each one. Here in Oregon there is a Monastery where they make the best candy I have ever eaten but I had not heard of one making caskets. Thanks again.

  • aWRISTocrats

    aWRISTocrats said 6 years ago

    These monks and the caskets they make are truly a blessing. I grew up in a city about five minutes from the abby and have known about these caskets for a long time. Thank you so much for this beautiful story!

  • MissingHeirloom

    MissingHeirloom said 6 years ago

    ok that wasn't supposed to happen :( I will definitely pass on the news of the childrens' caskets. I have had the good fortune to have 2 daughters - one who only stayed here with me on earth for a short amount of time. A friend made a pink seersucker 'ruffle' to go around her casket because the ridiculous thing looked like a styrofoam cooler. It was the 'only' thing available. UGH! Also I am of the age where I am helping my mother pre-plan her arrangements. There is nothing authentic about anything the funeral home showed us. I have always said just wrap me in an old worn quilt, and put me in a pine box. These caskets are just lovely.

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful article! Fantastic photography.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story. Great writing.

  • RedorGrayArt

    RedorGrayArt said 6 years ago

    thank you for this post ..another way of seeing art in objects not thought of in that way ~

  • lavidavintage

    lavidavintage said 6 years ago

    What a lovely piece! The idea that work and craftmanship can be a vocation and a meditation is wonderful. I love their humility and their dedication to their calling.

  • 2sleepingmice

    2sleepingmice said 6 years ago

    Wonderful article! I really appreciate the unique ways people choose to serve the Lord.

  • DaphneDays

    DaphneDays said 6 years ago

    What a lovely article and beautiful work. Thanks so much for this.

  • thisthatotherthings

    thisthatotherthings said 6 years ago

    Worth a second read. Thank You for the article

  • SapphireStitching

    SapphireStitching said 6 years ago

    thank you for the article - not says love by the devotion of true labor of love.

  • jimkat06

    jimkat06 said 6 years ago

    Truly beautiful story of these monks who simply do God's work on earth. I am honored to know both men and women who chose to live a life devoted to the Lord. Thanks so much for this story!

  • katehust

    katehust said 6 years ago

    very nice article. My uncle is a monk in upstate NY. They make monks bread to support their ministry. I loved visiting there as a child - it is such a peaceful place. Sad that many of these monasteries are dwindling in numbers.

  • tkmetalarts

    tkmetalarts said 6 years ago

    Wow, love the church interior too - that austere beauty. What a wonderful story and thanks for sharing.

  • noblegnome

    noblegnome said 6 years ago

    Very touching article. Really beautifully written about a really sensitive matter.

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 6 years ago

    What an inspirational article, I never knew about these priests, how awesome. Thank you for this story. Aloha

  • loveknotaprons

    loveknotaprons said 6 years ago

    This was such an interesting story. I loved learning about the monks and their ways. Very beautiful.

  • maybudha

    maybudha said 6 years ago

    I admire the monks' choice of making a living. I hope they will be there for a very long time for all of us' sake.

  • dhsagal

    dhsagal said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story - I really enjoyed learning about the monks and their chosen craft - they are inspiring. Thank you for sharing...

  • SushiGirl

    SushiGirl said 6 years ago

    Such a beautiful and touching article! Thank you for sharing! May God bless these monks and the work of their hands.

  • TashinkaBeadingHeart

    TashinkaBeadingHeart said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story of the monks, very nicely presented. Thanks!

  • squibbles76

    squibbles76 said 6 years ago

    Of all the architecture that man has made in this world...The Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, The Pyramids, Petra, St. Basil's Cathedral, etc. this one, New Melleray Abbey made me cry! I have never experienced any emotion while looking at famous buildings. However, I am overwhelmed with feelings of warmth, safety, and beauty. I am blessed to have been able to see the clean lines, natural wood, limestone that does not appear "cold", gothic windows, and simplicity of it all. It is overwhelming. Wow!

  • pickleberries

    pickleberries said 6 years ago

    When my Grandfather passed this last October he was buried in a casket that the Trappist Monks created for him.

  • TheCovetingCrow

    TheCovetingCrow said 6 years ago

    One of the most touching articles I've ever read. And powerful.

  • acorncupboard

    acorncupboard said 6 years ago

    Thought provoking, thank you.

  • JLuksetich

    JLuksetich said 6 years ago

    Even more beautiful in person, trust me!

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful article. I am currently reading "At World's End", the follow-up to "Pillars of the Earth". It takes place in the mid 1300's, and at the center of the story is a Priory with Monks. It's interesting to read about a contemporary version of these devout men. Thank you!

  • PyxusPassionProject

    PyxusPassionProject said 6 years ago

    Wow! Now I know what I want to be buried in... So interesting and wonderful food for thought.

  • JingleDingleDangle

    JingleDingleDangle said 6 years ago

    Beautifully written and thought provoking.

  • freedomrose

    freedomrose said 6 years ago

    one of the nicest things I've read lately... God Bless... I would rather a casket of these , more than any other... thanks for sharing a wonderful spiritual uplifting story...

  • VintageDaisyStudio

    VintageDaisyStudio said 6 years ago

    I was surrprise when I spotted this on the front page. Because I live a little over an hour south of there. I used to drive through that way on my way to college in Waterloo after I would come home. Also had a prayer retreat in the monestary when I was in high school. I love seeing it sitting in the landscape. It's a beautiful road and lovley location to reflect, then your eyes come upon the monestary. It's just an all over feeling of peace.

  • LaronDesign

    LaronDesign said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. Wonderful story !

  • foxegurl266

    foxegurl266 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful story!

  • lotzastitches

    lotzastitches said 6 years ago

    I was not expecting such a wonderful article when I started to read this. The story and information was so heart warming. I'm hoping and praying I won't need one for a long time but as we all know.... we never know what's ahead for us. I'd much prefer having one made and blessed by these prayerful monks for myself as well as my family. Thanks for writing and sharing this!

  • Fynorrahs

    Fynorrahs said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this article. This gave me the answer to current a dilemma. I will be placing an order this week.

  • riversongrapture

    riversongrapture said 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful feature. I have been to this abbey several times. It is a beautiful and peaceful place and I am always drawn to stop by, even if only for a few minutes, when I am passing through that area. So happy to find an article that shares the wonderful story of this place with others.

  • AnnTig

    AnnTig said 6 years ago

    Great article!

  • CiaoLucia

    CiaoLucia said 6 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Wow looks like such a peaceful place, I like how the caskets are sustainable by planting trees to replace cut ones.

  • piggledee

    piggledee said 6 years ago

    What a great story. I remember we used to buy this most amazing butter made by Trappist monks in Japan. I had no idea of the philosophy behind their craft until I read this article. A handmade casket made in such a lovely, peaceful surrounding, knowing that they'd plant a tree for each casket sold (i.e. each dead person) -- if I were Christian I'd definitely want to be buried in it.

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 6 years ago

    That is beautiful and the way we should go! Sweet and simple!

  • SkyBox

    SkyBox said 6 years ago

    What a lovely little article.

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 6 years ago

    Despite the knowledge that death awaits everysoul, articles like this evoke the thought of it even deeper. My tribe, use natural cotton clothes to wrap the dead then to barry, no caskets, no monuments or grave stones are erected, just a small rock to mark the spot of the departed.

  • kairo

    kairo said 6 years ago

    I have sat in that chapel and attended a mass led by the monks. My dad has frequented the monastery as a place for meditation to reflect on his life choices of sobriety. He has already purchased his casket from the monks. People should visit the grounds if they have the chance.

  • artXchic

    artXchic said 6 years ago

    the abbey is stunning! so lovely

  • TheCleverCat

    TheCleverCat said 6 years ago

    Beautiful and deeply moving. The idea of blessing th casket and planting a tree for each one delivered is so touching. And every prayer is precious, no matter the language or faith of the one who prays.

  • SeptemberWren

    SeptemberWren said 6 years ago

    This isn't something I would expect to find on Etsy, but I am so grateful I have. Thank you.

  • LavenderLinensdotcom

    LavenderLinensdotcom said 6 years ago

    I am replying to "mazedasastoat" - HORRORS for genealogists - not to have a headstone with dates. They can be works of art and everyone should have one.

  • BeehiveCatnipToys

    BeehiveCatnipToys said 6 years ago

    What a Blessing that these caskets are made with such peacefulness, in such a serene setting and with God given talent. How Beautiful is that?

  • marysgranddaughter

    marysgranddaughter said 6 years ago

    A lovely story.

  • windsweptlady

    windsweptlady said 6 years ago

    In a community like this one, full of artists aware of their calling, talents, and environmental impact, rediscovering the meaning behind careful stewardship keeps us all self-aware. Monks or not, that we continue to keep each other conscious speaks to the fulfillment of our responsibility as members of that community. Let's all continue to be blessings to one another!

  • FiorellaJewelry

    FiorellaJewelry said 6 years ago

    It gave me a very peaceful feeling to read this. At the end of a loved one's life, to be able to put them to rest in a casket that was prayed over and made with thoughtfulness, care, craftmanship and love, in a place of serenity...that has to make the whole process of saying goodbye easier.

  • beatroad

    beatroad said 6 years ago

    I love this. xo

  • esmeraldadesigns

    esmeraldadesigns said 6 years ago

    amazing story-thank you again <3

  • BuniLuvr

    BuniLuvr said 6 years ago

    Fabulous . . . will look up the New Melleray Abbey next time I am in Iowa. It's hard to imagine any place exists in this world as described. I believe there are abbeys in the area where I live . . . gives me a desire to explore and hopefully experience the peace that abounds in a life of simplicity

  • bittersweetdesign

    bittersweetdesign said 6 years ago

    I just ordered a catalog - as I have seen what the funeral homes have to offer - and I am in the pre-planning process with my mother.

  • kckwoodworking

    kckwoodworking said 6 years ago

    Life mets death an death met light, and light will shine long after death is no more. I greatly enjoyed the story. God bless all.

  • ToothNailTail

    ToothNailTail said 6 years ago

    So interesting. I didn't know about the protection law. I really enjoyed reading this, thank you!

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