Monesterio de Nuestra Señora Santa Maria de Guadalupe

January 8, 2022

We took a day trip to visit Silver City, New Mexico, in December while we were still staying in Deming, which is about an hour south of Silver City. We stopped at the town’s visitor center, as visitors do, and the very helpful volunteer there happened to mention that there’s a monastery north of Silver City. She added that visitors could enter the chapel for the Divine Service, which was conducted in Gregorian chants. That really piqued our interest, as it would anyone who was around in the 1990s and had the “Chant” CD (and everyone had that CD in the 1990s). We didn’t have time to visit the monastery that day, but we resolved to do so when we were staying in Silver City in January.

And so we did.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, founded in 1991, is about 10 miles north of Silver City on some very winding National Forest dirt roads. The monastery is home to a number of Benedictine monks who spend their days (which start at 3 AM) in worship and at work, including farming, construction, woodworking, and other pursuits. While in the Goddard that morning, we looked at the schedule for the monastery’s Divine Office online and endeavored to be at the 12 noon service.

While we were still a few miles from the monastery, parts of its buildings kept popping out through the forest trees.

The drive to the monastery, especially when we saw parts of the buildings emerge from the forest, reminded both Nancy and me of approaching Neuschwanstein Castle when we were in Bavaria in 2008. Although it’s only 10 miles from Silver City, the trip takes about 30 minutes because of the road conditions and tight turns.

This is the entrance to the monastery. Although the monastery is deep within the woods surrounded by the Gila National Forest, the cactus and ocatillo (the spindly succulent on the right, which is more closely related to blueberries than to cacti) reminded us that we were not far from the Chihuahan Desert.

Although Silver City is in southwestern New Mexico, the monastery is at an elevation of about 6,700 feet and, because of the deep shade afforded by the surrounding pine trees, there was still some snow on the ground from a New Year’s Eve snowfall. We arrived just a few minutes before noon and found our way to the chapel, as the bells from the tower overhead were calling the monks to the service.

The arched entrance and bell tower of the monastery’s chapel. St. Benedict founded his first monastery, apparently without the intent of founding an entire order, in about 529 in Italy.

There were a few monks already in the chapel when we entered, and more gradually entered until there were perhaps 12 or 14 when the service began. I didn’t want to take photos, and I won’t write too much about the service itself other than to say that it was indeed conducted in Gregorian chants and in Latin (I recognized the word “Amen” and that was about it), and it was an extraordinarily calming and restorative experience that Nancy and I enjoyed immensely.

This is the view looking northwest at the Gila National Forest from the chapel’s entrance. This monastery is one of about 100 Benedictine houses in the United States.

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