Tomorrow, on 20 August, clergy and parishioners from right across the Diocese of Leeds would usually have been celebrating the Feast of St Bernard with Mass in the Cellarium at Fountains Abbey. This year, the physical distancing required for the COVID-19 regulations means that for the first time in more than thirty years, ever since the National Trust took over responsibility for running the Abbey, there will be no Mass.
One of the earliest volunteer teams set up by the National Trust at Fountains Abbey is the Fountains Chaplaincy: an ecumenical team of clergy and laypeople of all denominations who work in nearby churches. Every year the Chaplaincy organises a programme of services to remember the Abbey’s 900-year religious history which dates back to 1132 when thirteen Benedictine monks from St Mary’s Abbey in York first settled at Fountains.
Among the most popular services are the Christmas Carols by Candlelight service in December and the Annual Mass in the summer. This is celebrated alternately on the feast days of two of the founding fathers of modern western monasticism: the Feast of St Benedict in July and the Feast of St Bernard in August.
For Fountains Abbey opening times, please visit the National Trust website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey-and-studley-royal-water-garden