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T h e  V i r t u a l  A b b e y : A  M e d i e v a l  T o u r
Abbey Entrance | Herb Garden | Scriptorium | Wine Cellar

wine cellarThe Wine Cellar 1, 2, 3

“He who drinks wine sleeps well. He who sleeps well cannot sin.
He who does not sin goes to heaven. Amen."

- The Old Monk's Prayer


   Wine was a universal medicinal drink in the Middle Ages and at the time the world's only known antiseptic.

       It was used to disinfect cuts. It was a favorite cure for sore throats, and where hygiene was poor, preferred over water.

     In early monasteries, wine was a crude concoction, but an evil necessity for celebrating the mass, and often evil-tasting. The St. Wandrille Abbey variety, for example, was a medieval synonym for foul.

     But as winemaking improved - in the able hands of the Benedictines - a suspicion slowly fermented that monks perhaps were more interested in celebration than in the mass. It was a hot topic of discussion in village squares all over Europe, and worldy friars as boozy, slovenly and gluttonous later became a common theme in literature and tavern sing-alongs.

     The friar who "knew the tavernes wel in every town" was among those characters Chaucer skewered in Canterbury Tales.

Friar Tuck, another irrascible Franciscan and fictional companion of Robin Hood, strayed far from the ways of St. Francis of Assisi.

And, it took little imagination to see the origins from whence came the legend of The Purple Abbot who loved wine - not wisely, but all too well. As the story goes, his skin would eventually turn the color of the grape...

To drink like a Capuchin is to drink poorly,
To drink like a Benedictine is to drink deeply,
To drink like a Dominican is pot after pot,
But to drink like a Franciscan
Is to drink the cellar dry!

- Old French Drinking Song

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