Bishop Terry presided at the abbatial blessing of Dame Anna Brennan OSB, the newly elected abbess of Stanbrook Abbey in Wass.

The blessing of an abbess, first recorded in the sixth century, has varied in form and expression over the centuries.

Nowadays, the rite is very simple. It takes place during the celebration of Mass in the presence of the faithful, to emphasise that the monastery, a community of the baptised, stands at the heart of the Church in its response of faith, love and praise.

In a powerful homily, Bishop Terry united the themes of the service the monastic superior should give, the self-emptying of Christ and the healing power of the cross.

Guests priestly, religious and lay, Anglican and Catholic, local and from far away, joined in the singing and afterwards shared a celebratory meal which, with the blessing of perfect weather, could be eaten both in the monastic refectory and outside in the enclosure garth.

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