The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani

The Abbey Of Our Lady Of Gethsemani

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The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani

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The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is a Trappist monastery near Bardstown, Kentucky in Nelson County—situated on more than 2,000 acres of farmland, and considered to be the "mother house" of all Trappist and Trappistine monasteries in the United States of America. Founded December 21, 1848 and made an abbey in 1851, Gethsemani was made famous when the monk Thomas Merton—acclaimed author and poet—made the abbey his home. Gethsemani is the oldest monastery in the United States of America that is still in use. The monastery is well-known for its store—Gethsemani Farms—which offers handmade Trappist cheese, fruitcake and bourbon fudge on-site and by mail order. The current Abbot of the abbey is Fr. Elias Dietz.


In September 1805 a community of French Trappists from the Abbey of La Valsainte in Switzerland arrived in Louisville, Kentucky from Pennsylvania. They traveled south near Bardstown, Kentucky to meet with the first Catholic priest ordained in the United States—Fr. Stephen Badin. The monks were invited by Badin and members of his congregation to make their home in the area—which they did for a short while. The community, though, left in 1809 after a year of bad flooding. Though their departure was understandable, it left Badin and other locals wanting for the ancient rituals and lifestyle those Trappist monks had brought with them. It is no wonder, then, that the townspeople of Bardstown greeted the next congregation that came with...
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