I pulled up to a small vineyard that sat on the edge of town. I had come here looking for an abbey that I had been told was worth checking out. I hadn’t expected this though. As I pulled down the thin dirt road, surrounded by fields filled with row after row of grapes, a small grey building with a cross sticking out of it appeared in the distance.
The entire property seemed abnormally desolate, even though the environment was full of life from the recent spring rains. Not a single car could be seen, not a single person could be heard, yet as I walked around exploring the area I was filled with a sense of peace which (strangely) seems to come when I am in places dedicated to religion. I walked inside, and I found a single monk vacuuming the floor. He stopped to greet me and welcome me to his home, excited to tell me about the history of the building.
He told me a story set in the middle ages of Spain. The country had recently been reunified under Catholic rule after decades of war between the Islamic and Catholic Spaniards. Because of this, Spain was intent on spreading the word of Jesus Christ throughout the land and hundreds of abbeys were built across the nation. But in the 15th Century, fortunes had changed. Civil wars plagued the nation, and lands were being conquered by aristocracy after aristocracy. The local lands were depopulated and over the next couple hundred years, the abbeys slowly died away.
Then in the 1900’s, William Randolph Hearst was looking for a Monastery to buy. He purchased the Santa Maria de Ovila, had it taken apart brick by brick, and shipped to California, intending to rebuild it near his home on the coast. That never happened though, with him selling off the pieces to San Francisco as part of a tax repayment program, and the bricks sat there for years, until this group of monks bought this part (the chapel), having it rebuilt here.
At this point I realized I had hear this exact story once before while I was at a monastery in Miami. How serendipitous that I had randomly ended up at the other half of that church, on the other side of the country.
Closest Supercharger Corning CA 11 mi
950 Hwy 99 W, Corning, CA 96021
Abbey of New Clairvaux
26240 7th St, Vina, CA 96092