Our lodges are open with restrictions, please contact Sr Laurentia at Tel: 01347 868931.
Regrettably, church and bookshop remain closed until further notice. The bookshop is still operating a mail order service and Sr Benedicta would be delighted to hear from you: Tel: 01347 868927.
Limited parlour hospitality is available but must be arranged in advance.
Please watch this space which will be updated whenever there is a change in Government advice, and keep in touch.

Please be assured of our prayers at this testing time and please do continue to send prayer requests via or the Prayer Page of the website. The telephone is checked frequently so do leave a message if you wish to get in touch or need to speak with someone.




The Spiritís Epiphany

making us kings,

stabling us to bear gifts,

to journey through nights,

   to pay

homage even to small things:

to trust stars.

copyright Laurentia Johns OSB

from 'Seeking Byland: Poems through the Seasons from Stanbrook Abbey'
pub. Gracewing, 2020,
available from the Abbey bookshop, £10.00 plus p. & p.

                                                        Tel: 01347 868927


There are many icons of Jesus being held by Joseph, but an image of Joseph cradling the baby as is possible in our crib scene and I find particularly powerful.  Joseph the faithful protector holding Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world who through the incarnation is, at this stage, a helpless babe dependent on his parents, like all other babies, for everything.

The way Joseph holds the son entrusted to him is pure tenderness and love. Jesus is not a possession to be clutched but life to be revered.

Undoubtedly Joseph was initially taken aback to learn that Mary was already expecting a baby and was challenged as to how best to handle the situation and yet Joseph seemingly did not look back once he was reassured in a dream by the Angel that his was God's doing.

When Joseph dreamed, he was given clear instructions but for him to be able to respond with such confidence tells us, that like Mary, he was a man of prayer, always waiting on the Lord and ready to respond.

Consequently, he was able to keep faith with Mary, to marry her, to trust his instinct and dreams, that whatever was happening, however strange, was of God.  Joseph knew he was in the presence of something much greater.

Why Joseph? Scripture describes Joseph as an 'upright man' a good man, in good standing with God. However, it is Joseph's actions that perhaps provide a more helpful descriptions of why he was chosen by the Lord and entrusted with the task of providing a home for Jesus to grow up and mature.  He took his responsibility for the care and safety of Mary and his son to his heart, and so they became his life.  This meant letting go of any plans he may have had of his own. The gaze of Joseph on Jesus suggests nothing of disappointment or frustration that he was not his biological father.  There is nothing lacking because Joseph was open to receive a different fullness and fulfilment in accepting the Father's will.

Pope Francis makes much of this in his Apostolic letter 'Patris Corde' in this Year dedicated to St Joseph.

We have another statue in the monastery. It is Joseph holding hands with the boy Jesus.  Both figures are carved from the same piece of wood with Jesus looking up at Joseph and Joseph, looking down at his son. The gaze of Joseph at his son is one of unconditional love and wonder at the boy entrusted to his care.  A man of few words but this gaze surely communicates so much more.

In the holding of hands is the delight at being with one another, which again speak of a genuine loving tenderness and care in their relationship. It is testimony to the home Joseph and Mary provided in which for Jesus to grow up.  A home that for all the challenges of family life was clearly filled with a superabundance of love. 

It is most likely that Jesus learned something of his father's trade as a carpenter, but he learned much more from Joseph than practical skills. In these years Joseph surely imparted to Jesus what it truly means to be a father. 

Joseph a man who listened carefully for the voice of the Lord amid all the competing clamours of the world and in his own heart.   Jesus was growing up in a home where fidelity to his Heavenly Father's will was a lived reality.  Both Mary and Joseph made their 'fiat' to God, just as he would do in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Obedience to the Father's will is what led Jesus to accept his Passion and death for us all.  That confidence in the face of challenge to God the Father, Jesus witnessed in both of his parents.

In this special Year of St Joseph Pope Francis invites us to reflect upon the life of this hidden saint a man who laid down his own plans for marriage and family to embrace the will of the God he clearly knew and trusted.  Pope Francis in focusing on St Joseph has highlighted the world's need for fathers who imitate the qualities and faith of this saint.

The world and the Church need men and women today to imitate his quality of listening and dedication to prayer so that we too may be ready to receive and accept the tasks entrusted to us.

Almighty God and Father, who entrusted to the watchful care of blessed Joseph the Virgin Mary and her Child, grant that by his prayers your Church may be a faithful guardian of the mysteries of salvation.

Collect for the Feast of St Joseph

Sr Josephine




Perhaps you've heard of the recent spectacular discovery made by a four-year-old when walking with her father on the beach at Barry in S. Wales: a dinosaur footprint estimated to be 220 million years old! It looked so pristine it might have been imprinted in the sand yesterday.  Reflecting on this can help put our current situation in perspective - will there even be history books in which COVID-19 features in 220 million years' time? At the same time this find reassures us that nothing is lost in God's creation. For us, dinosaurs are extinct creatures whose remains are only to be found in natural history museums, but to God everything that he has created remains as fresh as that beautifully preserved footprint. And if this is true for dinosaurs, how much more for his dear children who bear the imprint of his beloved Son?

We may not be able to receive ashes this Ash Wednesday, but we can take time to think of ourselves as mortal: fragile as a footprint in sand and yet, bearing the image of Christ, infinitely precious to God. Maybe we can handle some earth or sand to remind ourselves of this double reality of being a human being on the journey to God.

Our Lenten observances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to help renew this image in us. In prayer, spending time with God, it's as if the image becomes more deeply etched in our being. Fasting from things which perhaps silt up or obscure the image needs some thought. This will be different for each of us and I suggest that this year we should be gentle on ourselves as we have already had rather a Lenten year. Maybe we can try to fast from undue anxieties, cares and pre-occupations which can betray a lack of trust in God.

Almsgiving - I mean giving of oneself rather than financial giving - can prove a challenge in lockdown but I know so many of you are already doing great things and little things with great love. Ask the Lord what he wants you to do.

Then there is our lectio which is a most effective way of washing away what 'gums up' the image of Christ in us and helps us to reflect that Word more fully.

And whatever we do, let's keep our sights on Easter as St Benedict wishes us to do. The spring flowers and lengthening days ('Lent' comes from 'lengthening') will help us in the Northern hemisphere while for those who live south of the equator the autumn season perhaps indicates the fullness of God's mercy in Christ.

Sr Laurentia

'The Way of Benedict: Eight Blessings for Lent' by Laurentia Johns OSB, pub. SPCK, is available from the Stanbrook Bookshop, �9.99 plus p.& p.
Contact Sr Benedicta:
Tel: 01347 868927

'Seeking Byland: Poems through the Seasons from Stanbrook Abbey' also by Laurentia Johns OSB, pub. Gracewing 2020 is available from the abbey bookshop, priced �10.00 plus p.& p.



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