It might not quite offer the hedonism of Goa or Phuket but a traditional Roman Catholic monastery is making an unexpected move into the gap year market.
Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight is advertising its first “monastic internships”, offering young people a taste of life in a Benedictine community.
There will be no all-night beach parties or Himalayan treks to help them “find” themselves – just plenty of prayer and reflection.
The four successful candidates will receive board, lodgings and spiritual guidance in return for at least four hours work a day every day - except Sunday – cooking, growing food in the Abbey gardens, looking after cattle, pigs and bees or binding books.
They will live by the Benedictine traditions, rising before 5am each day to wash from a bowl in their cell before making their way for Vigils at 5.30am – the first of seven services throughout the day.
The Abbey has a long tradition of hospitality to visitors but the two month placement, which is open to young men aged 18 to 25, is the first extended stay of its kind.
“It’s like a gap year experience and laying a spiritual foundation,” Father Luke Bell, who is organising the scheme, told The Catholic Herald.
“It is very much a monastic tradition for guests to stay in a monastery but it’s normally a week or two in the spiritual programme.
“People are actually working in the rule of St Benedict.”
The Abbey traces its origins to the early 12th Century when the Cistercian house of Our Lady and St John was founded.
Left in ruins after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries it was refounded at the turn of the 20th Century to house a French Benedictine community who were living in exile on the Isle of Wight.
When not at prayer its current inhabitants are known for their range of crafts including one monk who devotes his time to painting treescapes and another who writes devotional books.
The monks also run a tea shop and open their gardens to visitors – of the human variety as well as red squirrels and buzzards.
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