The Gift of a Tree

A blessing of our newly acquired and recently planted Cedar tree, took place on the lovely sunny morning of Sunday 3rd of October, 2010. The ceremony was conducted by our chaplain Fr Patrick Ryan OCSO, in the presence of abbess Mother Marie, members of the community and guests.

We hope one day this particularly fine specimen of its type, will grow into a truly magnificent Cedar of Lebanon, for it was gifted to us in memory of Sr. Paula by her niece Catherine who was present with her friend Elizabeth for the blessing.

Cedrus libanii was chosen for this memorial gift both because of its biblical significance (it is mentioned 76 times in sacred scripture) and to replace the existing one located behind our cemetery which is now coming to the end of its natural lifespan.

Cedars of this kind naturally occur in the mountainous regions of Lebanon, Syria and central Turkey. The species is said to have been first introduced to Europe by Louis VII (husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine) when he returned to France from the second crusade to Jerusalem, in the twelfth century. However it wasn’t until sometime between 1630 and 1640 that this fabulously majestic tree made its way to the British Isles, where it was enthusiastically planted in the grounds of the newest of grand houses and parks.

In 1683 the curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden in London had four seedlings planted but because they flourished and grew so large, two had to be felled before they were even 90 years old. Precisely because they are capable of reaching a height of more than 40m with a girth of 2.8m., we have chosen to plant our lovely specimen in the field on the right hand side as one approaches the church, where it will have plenty of room to develop and be admired by generations of visitors yet to come.

We would like to express our gratitude to Catherine for this particularly lovely gift and for being present for its blessing. We look forward to watching the development of this wonderful and commanding tree which will always call to mind our dearly departed Sr. Paula.

– Sr Fiachra

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