Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate
House of Contemplation “Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel”
Lanherne Convent, St. Mawgan
Newquay, Cornwall TR8 4ER
Tel.: 01637 860423
Please permit me to introduce myself. I am a Franciscan Sister of the Immaculate living the contemplative life at Lanherne Monastery in St. Mawgan, Cornwall. We are a community of 11 sisters from England, Italy, and the Philippines and we arrived here in the year 2001, 10 years ago. Prior to that, the Carmelites, who had been here since 1794, decided that they would leave Lanherne in order to amalgamate with another one of their communities. They therefore sought another religious order who would be able to continue the life of prayer and sacrifice which they had fulfilled here since their arrival. We were approached by the Mother Superior and a meeting was arranged between the Carmelites and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. It was decided that we would come to Lanherne and begin our contemplative life here on 11th July 2001.
However, following our arrival, the circumstances changed and it was decided that the Monastery should be sold together with its Estate. What happened, in fact, is that the surrounding buildings have been sold and all that remains now is the Monastery itself and St. Joseph’s Hall (which is used as a church hall). We have been asked if we would like to purchase Lanherne ourselves, but as Franciscans we are not allowed to own any properties, nor do we have the money to purchase it. What I ask is whether you know anyone (or a group of people) who would be interested in helping us to keep Lanherne as a place of prayer and who would purchase the Monastery and Hall, but at the same time permit us to remain here to continue our life of prayer. I do not know how much the property is estimated to be but I feel sure they would not be looking for more than £1 million. I do not think there are any other religious who would be interested in coming here and if would be a tragedy if it became a secular building as so many other Monasteries in England have become. We can think of Stanbrook Abbey and Darlington Carmel to name but two.
Lanherne is such a special place and everyone who visits it says they find great peace and a facility to pray here. One year ago we started to have adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament every day of the week after the 7.30 a.m. Holy Mass (10 a.m. on Sundays), ending with Benediction each day. You may be interested to know that the Sanctuary light before the Blessed Sacrament has remained alight for hundreds of years. Lanherne used to be the Manor House of the Arundell family who rose to high positions in the country, only to be reduced to gradual impoverishment during the times of the Reformation, due to their love of the Catholic faith. Lanherne became a place of refuge for many priests during this time of persecution and there are said to be nine priest holes where they hid from their persecutors. Tradition relates that one priest was hidden in one of these for eighteen months. St. Cuthbert Mayne often used to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here (using the altar which is now in our small choir) and ministered to the Faithful here. He was martyred on 29th November 1577, for the simple reason that he was a Catholic priest. The Franciscans of the Immaculate are now the very privileged custodians of the first class relic of his skull which is kept in our choir, and which the people who attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass here on Sundays are able to venerate.
Just to tell you a little about our Institute of Franciscans of the Immaculate (friars and sisters). It was founded fairly recently by two Italian priests, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli and Fr. Gabriele Pellettieri, (both of whom are still alive) who were inspired by the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. The distinctive characteristic of our Institute is the religious profession of the Marian Vow of Total Consecration to Our Lady and each of us desire to live our religious consecration under the protection and through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by means of this Vow. One very important thing in a world in which the number of religious vocations is dwindling rapidly, is that our Institute does have many vocations both for the friars and sisters and these are now coming from all parts of the world. We have communities in many countries and four Houses of Contemplation, one of which is Lanherne.
May God and Our Lady reward and bless you for reading this letter which I send to ask if you are able to help us in any way to keep Lanherne a place of prayer (which has been our most special intention for so many years). I would be most grateful to hear from you in this regard and assure you of my prayers and that of the whole community.
in Jesus Mary & Joseph
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate