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Downside Abbey

Downside AbbeyDownside Abbey, near Bath in Somersetshire, England is home to a community of monks in the Benedictine tradition. It was from this Community that Archbishop John Bede Polding and Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan, the first two Archbishops of Sydney, came.
The monastery moved to Downside in 1814, more than 200 years after its foundation.
After initial consideration of being made a diocesan seminary, and with the support of the Holy See, Downside continued in the monastic tradition. In 1899 Pope Leo XIII elevated its status from priory to abbey.

The Abbey was founded at Douai, Flanders, under the patronage of St. Gregory the Great in 1605 by the Venerable John Roberts, first prior, and some other English monks who had received the habit and taken vows in the Spanish Benedictine Congregation. A monastery was built for the community in 1611.

From the first, a school or college for lay pupils, sons of English Catholic gentry, has been an integral part of the institution. This undertaking, conducted on traditional English public school lines, has always absorbed much of the energies of the community, whose other chief external work has consisted in supplying various missions or parishes in England.

Six monks of St. Gregory’s have died martyrs for the Catholic Faith and are already pronounced Venerable, namely Dom George Gervaise, martyred 1608; Dom John Roberts, the first prior, 1610; Dom Maurus Scot, 1612; Dom Ambrose Barlow, 1641; Dom Philip Powell, 1646; and Brother Thomas Pickering, 1679.

Among their famous scholars was Dom Hugh Connolly, the only Australian to gain a personal entry in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. The Abbey buildings now consist of a monastery for about fifty monks; school buildings for 1340 boarders; guest-house, and the abbey church.

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