A day with Archbishop Don. Francisco Senra Coelho at the Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli at Evora.

Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli is an exceptional space of silence and spiritual exaltation.  



Archbishop Don. Francisco Senra Coelho

The Holy Father appointed Rev. Can., Francisco José Villas-Boas Senra de Faria Coelho, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Évora as the Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Braga (Portugal). He was installed into his See on the 2 September 2018.

D. Francisco Senra Coelho, has always been a great friend and admirer of the Carthusian Order and of the Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli at Evora.  The Carthusians due to their strict enclosure rule could not attend the Archbishops instillation, so they invited His Excellency to preside at the solemn feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday 8 September at the Charterhouse of Santa Maria instead.

D. Francisco Senra Coelho was delighted to accept the invitation of his friends the monks,  concelebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy.  After the Mass he shared lunch with some monks in the refectory which is traditionally eaten in silence.  After lunch D. Francisco then spoke with the Prior, monks and brothers, calling all present to mind that he was their parish priest and had prepared for his episcopal consecration at the Charterhouse with a spiritual retreat. The monks wished that this video of the Holy Mass be shared! Here.

Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli is an exceptional space of silence and spiritual exaltation.  

The Monastery of the Cartuja was built at Evora between 1587 and 1598 by the Archbishop of Evora D. Teotónio de Bragança (1578-† 1602) of the House of Braganza, whom, whilst archbishop, had the monastery church artistically enriched. The church was declared a national monument in 1910.

It is here that the Carthusian monks lead a solitary life of prayer, dating from 1598.

The monastery is near Évora and its bell, especially the midnight bell, which is part of the allure, and now designated as a world heritage site. Today the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria Scala Coeli is considered by the Evoran citizens as one of its spiritual and artistic treasures.

In 1834, the revolutionary forces expelled the Carthusians, along with all religious. The monastery came under the ownership of the State which turned it into agricultural school (the monumental church served as a barn …). In 1871 the Eugénio de Almeida family bought the ruins from the State.

In the middle of the 20th century, Vasco Maria Count of Villalva, decided to restore the monastery and return it to the Order of St. Bruno. Seven founders in 1587 and seven restorers in 1960. The restoration to the Carthusian Monks was initiated in 1960, at the invitation of the Foundation’s Institution, who, for this purpose, undertook extensive reconstruction and restoration of the building. 

This simple but deep and exalted life, divine life in its term, although human in its conditioning, develops in the ample monastery, open to the Alentejo sky, seems cheerful with its lime walls and the evergreen plants, orange trees, cypresses, boxwood, myrtle, is a “desert” of 80-hectares surrounding and sheltering the house, with eucalyptus, cork oaks, olive trees and pastures for the white cows and helps to create a favourable environment for union with God. It is precisely this union with the Lord that kindles charity within their hearts, which moves them to pray intensely for the salvation of all mankind and also leads them to unite intimately with the other solitaries whom they live in the monastery.  This union is practiced and expressed on Feast days, which they celebrate with frequent community events: they sing in the church, they eat together, they talk in the afternoon. Every other week in the afternoon a they take a walk called the “Spatiamentum” talking among themselves, through the breathtaking Alentejo countryside, which to the north of the city is uninhabited and deserted.

It is a place of simplicity, silence, prayer and contemplation, and is currently the only Carthusian presence in Portugal.  This union is practiced and expressed at parties, which they celebrate with more frequent community acts: they sing longer in the church, they eat together, they talk in the afternoon. Another afternoon a week they take a walk, talking among themselves, through the Alentejo countryside, which to the north of the city are uninhabited and deserted.

And so Carthusian life was reborn and revived at Santa Maria Scala Coeli, and it once again opened its doors to the Noviciate.

You can read more about this event at Cartusialover here there is an online translator on this website on the top left hand corner which will translate it into your desired language.

From various sources.

Author: dom.Ugo-Maria

Catholic Priest - Hermit of Carthusian Charism, following the early and stricter Coutumes de Chartreuse (Rule) written about 1121-1128 written by Guigues du Chastel the 5th prior and Father General of Grande Chartreuse. Served as a curate and priest in Ireland for a while then moving to Devon as Parish Priest. A spell as Prison Chaplain and then Chaplain to the Railways (SouthEastern). Then a few years as a Diocesan Administrator, Vicar Forane, Vicar General and called as a Bishop (which I turned down). In the past I served as an officer in HM Armed Forces, lectured at Oxford, and teacher at the Royal School for Deaf children in Margate (now closed), for a spell (13 months) run an NHS hospital where I quickly realised that if you have no medical background and tend to use spreadsheets to reach a decision then you should not be running a hospital. Now I serve as Prior to the Hermits of Saint Bruno at St. Mary's Hermitage near Canterbury in Kent. I write on the Eremitic way of life although sometimes I tend to broach other subjects of interest, and occasionally undertake translations for Bishop Alistair from English to Italian. My life as a contemplative is extremely fulfilling and busy and I no longer have a public ministry which I occasionally miss especially the out-reach ministry. I also enjoy gardening on the hermitage grounds and as most gardeners will know its a never ending task, albeit quite rewarding. The hermitage also has some other residents, there is the hermitage guardian who is a layman who lives in rooms at the front of our hermitage and acts as a barrier/intermediary with the outside world; there is Jules a 4 year old Staffordshire terrier, who seems to know the Monastic Horarium and occasionally acts as a prompt, Augustus the tom cat who is 1 year old now and spends most of his time in the fields surrounding us catching moles, mice and rabbits (not so keen on birds) or in my cell when it gets too hot outside (he occasionally assist in writing my articles - having adopted the habit of falling asleep at my desk, occasionally waking and hitting the keyboard with his paw), Buffy who is 25 years old and Terra, her daughter who is 24 years old, female cats that were with me when I was parish priest at St. John Bosco's in Barnstaple. The two hens Hildegard (von Bingen) and Rosaline (of Villeneuve) who provide the eggs that we need, and then there is Topo Gigio a mouse who lives in one of our outhouses who is not scared of cats or people, can be quite vocal if you upset him by encroaching although quite frankly is no bother at all which is why he has been left alone. We currently also have 6 sheep outside in the field (not ours) but they do keep the grass cut. We are fortunate to have several fruit trees, Apples, Plums, Cherries, Pears, and 2 fig plants which I brought back from Sicily, quite a few herbs: mint, St. John's-wort, basil, chives, garlic, oregano, lemon balm, sage, chamomile, bay, echinacea, coriander, feverfew, lavender, valerian, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, cilantro and others, there are also many flowers, too many to list. My interests are mediaeval church & monastic history, ancient liturgies, the Old Catholic Movement, Nicene and post Nicene Fathers, Desert Fathers and Mothers and Carthusian history. I also speak Italian and German, Latin, Catalan, Sicilian and French although am rusty with some.

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