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Sept 2015 back issue
A Life  Dedicated to Prayer
by Senén Germade
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I wanted to document the daily lives of the Cistercians monks at the Oseira Monastery, in Oseira, San Cristovo de Cea, Ourense, Galicia, Spain.  I managed to get access to this community in order to unlock the mystery of a life dedicated to prayer. From an anthropological point of view, this community of Cistercians monks is interesting.  They spend much of the day in prayer, offering to God a sacrifice of praise for the salvation of everyone.  The rest of their time is spent working.  To these monks, poverty is an essential part of their lives, and the consequence of this poverty is the need to work. At Oseira, as the monastery is fairly large in size, each of the monks has a clearly defined occupation.  In addition to their roles, each monk is also expected to: carry out maintenance and help with the upkeep of the buildings, work in the laundry, help in the garden, the library, with liquor production and the hives, and also to work in the bakery, the inn and the shop.
Oseira Monastery, in Oseira, San Cristovo de Cea, Ourense, Galicia, Spain, on a typical rainy day. 1st April 2014.
Monks graveyard at Oseira Monastery. On each grave grows a boxwood hedge, cut into a cross. Boxwood is a symbol of eternal life. 28th March 2014.
One of the monks returning to the monastery, protecting himself from the rain with an umbrella. The monastery’s dog, called Benito, follows him. 30th March 2014.
Benito, the dog shelters himself from the rain under one of the entrances to the main building. 30th March 2014.
Alfonso walks under the arches of one of the three cloisters of the monastery to avoid the rain. 30th March 2014.
Alfonso is the host of the monastery Inn. The preparation of the rooms for the new guests is part of his daily work. 31st March 2014.
Alfonso feeding Benito. 30th March 2014.
Alfonso at the Solarium staring at the landscape after lunchtime. The Solarium is one of the few areas of the monastery that is for the exclusive use of the monks. 30th March 2014.
Soft light at the end of the day entering through the windows of the corridor that leads to the library. In the monastery, one is expected to remain silent when walking in the cloisters and corridors so as to not disturb the monks. 28th March 2014.
General view of the library containing more than 40,000 books of different genres. 28th March 2014.
Damián Yáñez is 97 years old and he is still the librarian of this wonderful library. 28 March 2014.
Luis, the painter, is very active. He serves the pilgrims, guides the visitors through the monastery and he also finds time to paint orthodox style icons, lives of saints, portraits of abbots and scenes of the Passion. 29th March 2014.
The Palm Tree room. The church was built between c.1200 and c.1239 AD. It is considered a landmark of Roman architecture in the Spanish peninsula. Its design was inspired by peregrination churches. The main chamber is known as the Palm Tree room and boasts a dome which is supported by four columns. 30th March 2014.
Alfonso wearing the typical chasuble in one of the corridors of the monastery. They wear the white chasuble each time they go to prayer and to celebrate the Eucharist. 1st April 2014.
The monks, in one of the churches of the monastery, celebrating the Eucharist, also called Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. 30th March 2014.
Luis reading a passage during the last prayer of the day before the Great Silence. 29th March 2014.
Monk playing the organ during the Gregorian chants. 29th March 2014.
Monks during the Salve, one of the last prayers of the day before the Great Silence. 30th March 2014.
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