Canonesscs of St. Augustine at St. Monica's Priory, Hoddesdon, Hefts, for which the foundation stone was laid by Cardinal Godfrey only last May, will, it is hoped, be finished by the end of next month.
Cardinal Godfrey has promised to come again. this time to bless and open the chapel which will be dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St. Philomena.
Attached to the Priory by two cloisters, the chapel is divided into three: One part before the high altar is a choir for the nuns; at the right is a section for invalid sisters, and on the left accommodation for about 25 lay people.
The statue of St. Phillomena which will be placed in the section for invalid sisters, was one of the first to be made after the saint's remains were discovered in the Rome catacombs. Petitions and letters of thanks for favours received pour in from many parts of the world.
The chapel, modern In design, is finished inside with coral plaster and brick pillars. Choir stalls are of South African mahogany and sycamore from Israel. The altar is of granite and marble. A picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in the lay section of the chapel is a copy of the Rome original and is painted on wood.
Part of the old Jacobean House which now forms part of the Priory, dates back to 1622 when the house was built by Sir Marmaduke Rawdon whose family remained there until 1898 when the nuns bought it.
The Canonesses who had left Louvain at the lime of the French Revolution came to Hoddesdon via Newton Abbot and Clare Hall, South Mimms.
A novitiate wing was added in 1922 but in the past two years this haw been used as a guest house for ladies for retreats, recuperation after illness, or for a period of quiet study preceding an exam. No permanent guests are accepted.
Although St. Monica's Was founded as an independent house, the Canonesses-on the advice of Cardinal Bourne-linked up In 1932 with Canoneeees at Bruges and Hayward'e Heath. Sisters came from Bruges and the Belgian Priory helped to add a further wing in 1934.
As the convent is established as
a House of Adoration. there is Exposition each day from after the morning Mass until Benediction at 7 p.m.
Although the back of the Priory and guest house face on to Hoddesdon's main street, the front opens out on lovely gardens with fine old cedar trees, 400-year-old elms, and live stately pines planted hy Sir Marmaduke Rawdon on the birth of his five daughters. In the three paddocks four Jersey cows graze with two heifers; there are farm buildings, a tractor, 30 pigs. a market garden, a lake and a fishpond.
In an effort to be self-supporting the nuns run the guest house in conjunction with the farm.