Friday, November 9, 2018

Caskets Made by Monks

Saint Meinrad
Saint Meinrad is a monastery located in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana near the town of Saint Meinrad. The monastery was founded in 1854 by two Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. Today the monastery operates a seminary and school of theology with more than 80 monks residing there.

Besides living lives of prayer, the monks of Saint Meinrad also have a line of caskets. Abbey Caskets was founded in 1999 as a way to support the works of the Archabbey. The caskets are built around the simple design used for the caskets for Benedictine monks for centuries.

Traditional Caskets
Local craftsmen handcraft the wooden caskets and cremation urns from hardwoods like walnut, oak, poplar and cherry according to the specifications of the monks. The caskets are lined with linen-covered mattress and a pillow.

Cremation Urns
According to the Archabbey, “The quality and construction of our caskets and urns represent the monks’ values of reverence, dignity and hope.” Traditional and monastic caskets are available along with urns for cremains and handcrafted furniture, which includes deacon benches, foyer benches and kneelers.

Interior Monk's Casket
The production facility is located on the Archabbey grounds and overseen by one of the brothers. This also allows customers to tour the production facility and see how the caskets are made. 

St. Meinrad Cemetery
There are two showrooms – one in Saint Meinrad and another at the Monastery of Holy Cross in Chicago. The monks offer a program where a person may make monthly payments may be now to relieve the family from the burden of funeral planning later. According to the 1994 Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule, "funeral homes must allow for the use of a casket purchased else where, and may not charge a fee."

Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln
In keeping with the Benedictine spirit of hospitality, the grounds of Saint Meinrad and the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln, built in the Romanesque style, are open for visitors to explore.

For more information, to schedule a tour or to order visit
Or call 800-987-7380. Saint Meinrad also provides retreats throughout the year and has a gift shop and bookstore on the grounds.
~ Joy

Friday, November 2, 2018

Day of the Dead - Día de los Muertos

Today is the final day to celebrate the Day of the Dead – a time to honor and celebrate loved ones who have died. The holiday is held November 1st and 2nd throughout Central and Southern Mexico. According to Mexican tradition, the gates of heaven open at midnight October 31st and all of the children who have died come back to visit their families. On November 2nd, adults who have departed are also able to return to earth for a short visit with loved ones… a true celebration of life and death.


Aztec and Mayan cultures have celebrated Day of the Dead for thousands of years. Mourning the dead was considered disrespectful so a party was thrown each year to remember and honor those who had died. Instead of two days, those celebrations lasted for an entire month and offerings were made to Mictecacihuatl, the Queen of the Dead.

A Family Alter
Alters are the centerpieces of the festivities. They are erected in homes and cemeteries and decorated with flowers. (Marigolds are the most popular because they are said to attract the dead.) Fruits and a candle for each deceased family member along with photos are included. An array of food is prepared, maybe a loved one’s favorite meal, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and water waiting to welcome visiting spirits back home. Special gifts like candies and toys are left for the children’s spirits while adults are offered cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Families honor their loved ones to the best of their abilities so only the best food and drinks are provided.

Cleaning the Graves
November 2nd is a social day in the local village. It's the day families travel to the cemetery to clean and decorate their loved ones graves, visit with neighbors, and remember those who have passed with stories and humor. Sugar skulls, a regional candy made of sugar cane and decorated elaborately, are believed to be “absorbed” by the visiting souls. The local band provides music for the event.

La Calavera Catrina is a symbol of the day. This female skeleton was created by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada in 1910 and dressed in the styles of 1900 including a large brimmed black hat. Men dress in fancy suits, and everyone paints their faces to resemble colorful skulls. The costumes are also a reminder that we are all the same under the skin. Singing, dancing and parades are held as part of the celebration. Noisemakers are used to “wake up the dead” and keep them involved in the celebration. When the party is over, the dog Xoloitzcuintli is said to assist in guiding the souls back to heaven.

Sugar Skulls
Day of the Dead celebrations are held in Latin American countries, Spain and the United States. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed Day of the Dead as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. Sugar skulls are popular with children, and parades of costumed revelers are always anticipated. Although the holiday is fun and festive, it is meant to honor loved ones who have died, and to celebrate life, and death – something we all will eventually have in common with each other.

~ Joy