Christ of the Desert Monastary, Abiquiu
Categories: Sacred & Religious Sites, Tourist Spots
The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery belonging to the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation of Benedictine monasteries.The monastery is in Abiquiu, New Mexico, surrounded by miles of undisturbed wilderness amidst the Chama River Canyon Wilderness area 75 miles north of Santa Fe. It is accessible by Forest Road 151, a 13 mile dirt road off of US route 84.The monastery was founded in 1964 by Aelred Wall, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Savior Monastery in Pine City, New York.The original monastery was designed by George Nakashima, the famous architect and woodworker. The chapel is renowned for its beauty and was praised by Thomas Merton as the most perfect monastic chapel he had ever visited.Christ in the Desert follows the Benedictine life without an external apostolate. It has a guesthouse in which men and women can stay and join the monks in the chapel to share in the monastic Divine Office and in the Mass.In addition to maintaining the guesthouse, the monks manage a gift shop of books and religious items, which is accessible online and by mail order. The monks also work in agriculture, crafts, computer work and maintenance of the grounds and facilities.Christ in the Desert has three dependent monasteries. In Mexico, La Soledad near San Miguel de Allende, and St. Mary and All the Saints, in Xalapa. In Chicago USA, Holy Cross Monastery. These monasteries also observe the Benedictine life with no apostolate other than a guesthouse.Plan your Christ of the Desert Monastary visit and explore what else you can see and do in Abiquiu using our Abiquiu trip itinerary builder.
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I'm so glad we decided to check this place out after touring Ghost Ranch. It's a pretty substantial diversion along a winding dirt road, but well worth the long drive. The setting was spectacular, nes... read more »
The 13 mile off road trip to travel to the monastery takes a long, long time on the unpaved, rocky road. Do not attempt to travel here if it has been raining or you will get stuck. This is a peaceful ... read more »
My friend living in New Mexico recommend we attend the Sunday mass and it was well worth the drive. We were lucky to have dry weather so the road was not muddy. It reminded me of the road to Hana on M... read more »
Thomas Merton found refuge within this hallowed land. Jesus sought to find himself within the quiet places of the desert. Who shall come here shall find the same. The thirteen mile road to this spectacularly modest monastery thrills the senses as it climbs up and down and meanders along the edge of the Rio Grande through some of the most vibrant colors of rock formations the imagination could muster. I have been making a regular pilgrimage to this sanctuary since the late 80's and every visit fills me with the same sense of wonder. Surrounded by the colors of O'Keefe this mystical place shall salvage the soul of believer and none believer alike. One cannot help but know there is a God when one has traveled and visited this tiny diamond in the desert...or emerald may better describe as is seems to rest within a small oasis of green..
The whole place at the area of Abiquiu NM is beautifully enchanted. The monastery give the place a delightful touch. Time inside the monastery time standstill, it prolong your existence. Your "ego" better be ready.
My late wife and I were the first lay couple to go to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. This was in Apr 1969. At the time they had just completed the rooms for visitors and the chapel. After viewing the video from 2011, I can say that they have more buildings, but the essence of the valley, the peace and the beauty remains the same. This is truly a one of a kind experience. At least once in your life you need to step back from life stress and just be. It does not matter if you are Catholic or not; although experiencing daily mass in the chapel remains one of my fondest memories. The daily life of the monastery surrounds one. The call of the bell to prayer, work, meals done mostly in silence is an eye opening, stressful adaptation that does take some getting use to. One does not realize how noisy and busy we are. We spent 7 days there and it took us about 3 days to slow down and let go. But it was worth it. Christ in the Desert Monastery is a journey. It is not easy to get to, depending on the time of year, as our case; our car got stuck in a mud slide and we had to walk 5 miles into the Monastery, talk about a walk of faith; high desert, getting dark and just following a dirt road. Life is simple, no electricity, no TV, no electronic devices. When we were there breakfast and lunch were taken in our guest room and dinner in the main house. We fit into the daily life helping in the garden and I even helped work on the chapel doors. For us the retreat was a re connection of our faith, marriage and life, talking and working together without the busy life interruptions. I hope my narrative has given a little insight into our life changing experience.
Visited during camping trip in 1993. Exquisite canyon wall surrounding part of the monastery.
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