Treasures belonging to a Benedictine Abbey are set to go under the hammer next week.
Monks from St Augustine’s Abbey in Ramsgate have handed over a number of their prized artefacts to be sold by specialist auctioneers, after they decided to downsize their living accommodation.
The 11 monks voted to leave their present home in 2009, and in 2010 they bought an old Franciscan Friary in Surrey. Their current Abbey home was built in 1856, and was the first monastery to be built in England since the Reformation.
And now they are set to raise an estimated £100,000 through the sale of their antique collectables.
But sale itself, and particularly the inclusion of consecrated chalices in it, has upset some observers who claim that the monastics have no right to sell the holy objects.
Blogger Fr Michael Clifton said: “A chalice is a consecrated object and should not be sold at all, only handed on. To sell consecrated objects is simony and against Canon Law.”
Now other Benedictines are believed to be attempting to acquire the sacred chalices, one of which has been valued at up to £15,000.
Fr Ray Blake, a parish priest in Brighton said he too felt unhappy about the idea of selling the chalices and other holy objects, pointing out that many of them would have been donated to the monastery in the memory of loved-ones.
He said: “I only hope and pray that these sacred objects are bought and restored to the holy use for which they were intended. However their fate is more likely to become part of some decorative scheme or possibly even to be used for a sacrilegious purpose, auctions are like that.
“Many of the objects were donated in memory of loved ones, there is a ciborium with an inscription asking for prayers for a young pilot killed presumably in the Battle of Britain and lots of other things which were never intended for sale but as offerings at the altar for the souls of the departed. I just hope the Abbot has permission from the donors descendants for their disposal.”
He added: “I have heard on the grapevine Farnborough Abbey are interesting in acquiring as many of these items as possible, "too keep them in the monastic family".”
A spokesman for the auctioneers, Dominic Winter, said that all of the religious objects had been deconsecrated. The auction is scheduled to be held on Wednesday and Thursday next week.
February 3rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross