The armchair pilgrim
One of the most interesting books I have read recently is 'Accidental Pilgrim', the story of David Moore's pilgrimage retracing the steps of the VIth Century Saint Columbanus , which I wrote about in my recent post.
Monasteries and pilgrimage have been a recurring thread on The Overgrown Path, and another book which has given a lot of pleasure is Kevin Wright's guide to European Monastery and Convent Guesthouses. Last autumn I stayed in the Benedictine Abbey of Ste Madeleine in the Vaucluse, in France, and this guide gives details of hundreds of similar religous houses which offer accomodation, or are worth a visit.
It is a wonderful book for the armchair pilgrim. But it also offers more than just a listing of monasteries. Kevin Wright gives a very useful overview of the diferent monastic orders, and their histories. There is a also a more detailed section on Solesmes Abbey which has done so much for the scholarship and use of Gregorian Chant within the church litury. There is also an excellent list of useful web sites and links. Supporting the book are online maps which show the location of all the monasteries listed.
European Monastery and Convent Guesthouses comes highly recommended. It is a wonderful way to wander through the amazing diversity and history of European monasteries, as well as a really useful resource for anyone thinking of making a retreat.