COVID-19 Action Regrettably, from 21 March until further notice, we have been advised by the Bishop of Middlesbrough that we are unable to receive guests at our monastic services. Further, as so many of the lay faithful, we are unable to celebrate the Eucharist during the current crisis. Please be assured of our prayers at this time and do continue to contact us with your prayer requests via this website, or email Tel: 01347 868900 We hope to post Scriptural reflections, so do visit this page.

Tuesday of Holy Week

In the first reading from Isaiah, the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, is described as the Light of the Nations.

But the Gospel passage is full of shadows and foreboding, from the first sentence where Jesus is troubled in spirit and foretells the betrayal of Judas “One of you will betray me”.  In fact, in the last sentence of today’s Gospel he foretells Peter’s betrayal also.

Judas is a mysterious and tragic, even terrifying figure. After he received the bread now made the body of Jesus SATAN enters him. How can this be?  We’re not told that Judas ate the bread. It is as if Jesus consciously handed himself over to Judas so Judas could hand him over – the literal meaning of the word “betray” to those intent on killing him.

The stark words NIGHT HAD FALLEN powerfully convey the triumph of darkness in Judas’ heart as he goes out.

And Jesus response?  It is astonishing!  “Now has the Son of Man been GLORIFIED! And in the following few lines he repeats the word GLORIFY with its overtones of brightness and shining a total of five times!

Jesus is indeed the Light that darkness cannot overcome.

Why was Judas needed to betray Jesus?  He was after all a well-known public figure who needed no pointing out.  But everything is taking place in darkness. For Jesus to be formally arrested, someone who knows him has to identify him and take him away without his followers having the chance to protect or hide him.  The greatest betrayal is that Judas betrays him with a kiss, the sign of love. As the psalm says “Even my friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has turned against me”.


Are we being shown the unfathomable depths of God’s forgiveness?  That absolutely nothing is beyond his mercy? Darkness is not dark for him; there is nowhere that he is not.


Peter’s betrayal is followed by sincere repentance.  Judas despairs and hangs himself, but many writers have intuited that this cannot possibly be the last word in the drama of Judas.

Years ago I read a series of partly fictional, partly scriptural reflections by an Anglican Franciscan, Carolyn Glyn.  She has Jesus descend on Holy Saturday into the realm of the dead where Judas is hunched in lethargy and dejection.  Jesus kisses Judas, takes him by the hand and raises him to his feet with the words: Awake O sleeper, and rise from the dead!

Sr Philippa Edwards OSB

Reflection for Monday of Holy Week

I am struck by the contrast between the first reading and the Gospel. In the first servant song from Isaiah we hear of the beloved, graceful servant in whom God's own soul delights, working miracles, freeing captives. Jesus applies this passage to himself when sending messengers to John the Baptist in prison -


"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor."


To me this presents a strong contrast between the key sentence of the Gospel passage - "She had to keep this scent for the day of my burial" - which points to the encroaching death of Jesus - an end to the miracles and the preaching. Just as Judas fails to see the significance of Mary's costly act of love, so it is difficult for us  to grasp the paradox that places the death of Jesus at the high point of this week. As we sang at Lauds this morning "From bitter death and barren wood the tree of life is made".

Sr Therese Murphy



Saturday 4 April: 5th Week of Lent

Today is the last day of 'ordinary' Lent, as we know when we step into Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday tomorrow, there is a significant shift in the intensity of the liturgy as we move towards the Paschal Triduum.

In today's gospel we see an example of darkness falling- some of the Pharisees have made up their minds Jesus must die, in order to maintain the status quo.  With the raising of Lazarus, he has gone too far and rather than rejoice at the new life being offered, they want to silence Jesus and his actions for good.  Nothing will change their minds their hearts are hardened, the decision is made, and the truth simply gets in the way.

It would be better for one man to die in order to preserve the entire nation.
The attitude of the Pharisees is a sobering picture of how, when we are so closed in ourselves, and addicted to self-justification, we become dangerous. We can be so intent on our rightness that we lose any perspective of a course of action different to our own; there simply can't be another way of looking at a situation or person than what we have decided to be right.

In this hardness of heart there is no room for movement and certainly no room for God.

This Holy Week and Triduum will be a very different experience for us and for most of the Church throughout the world.

The temptation, and I speak for myself, is to focus on what we shall be without, and for that to be an all-consuming preoccupation.

But we/I have a choice: I allow my heart to be hardened by disappointment or indignation or I ask for the grace to be open to something different, something unexpected, at this point unimaginable, for the Lord to touch us in a new way.

Sr Josephine Parkinson OSB













News & Photo Archive

Summer News

27 June 2019, Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sr Marian Sweeting-Hempsall made her Solemn Profession of Vows and thus became a full member of the Stanbrook community. 

17 July, on the completion of Dame Andrea Savage's 12-year term of office, Dame Anna Brennan was elected the new abbess of our monastery. 

19 July, we celebrated the Requiem Mass of Dame Agatha Backhouse (1937-2019) who had died peacefully at Apley Grange, Harrogate, on 12 July. R. I. P.

News of a collaborative venture between our own Sr Philippa and Mirfield's Fr Nicolas Stebbing. 

These two veteran monastics share their vast experience of monastic life in a way that should be helpful to all Christians. 'Making space for God: an invitation', published by Mirfield. ISBN 978-0-902834-48-9. �6.50. Available via Stanbrook Abbey bookshop: A poem of D. Laurentia's, 'Mary Reflects', formed part of the programme of 'Carols from King's' on BBC 2 on Christmas Eve 2018. 

Links below: 

The video download (just as an fyi): 

The pdf of the booklet:

Photographs of Stanbrook.

Aerial footage of Stanbrook Abbey
Made by students of the Kent School of Architecture

The monastery won a national RIBA award in June 2016.

In November 2016 we were awarded the Presidents' Award for new church buildings.

The abbey church has also won an award from the Wood Trust for 'excellence in architecture and product design in the world's only sustainable material.'

For an article about Stanbrook in the Yorkshire Post April 2016, please click on the link below:


Deo Gratias! The abbey church was duly and solemnly dedicated by the Right Revd Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, to much rejoicing.
For a full photographic record, please click here


The inaugural Mass in the new Abbey Church took place on Sunday 26 April 2015, thanks be to God and thanks to all our kind benefactors.
Read more by clicking here

 Right: Choir of the new Abbey Church (still incomplete)
Below: Inaugural Mass: the Gospel is proclaimed at the ambo

 Archive: The project since the start of the build:

Click here for Blessing of the East Wing site 6 February 2014
Deo gratias, building work began February 2014
Click here for March 2014 update

Work in progress, Spring 2015

Inside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

March 2015
Much activity inside the church which it is
hoped will be finished by the end of April.
So one more Easter in the Chapter House...

August 2015, the new chairs for guests arrive! Many of these have been sponsored by kind benefactors.

West-facing view of the church

East-facing view of the church