The Anti-Gluttony Door in Portugal’s Alcobaça Monastery Shamed Plump Monks to Begin Fasting


Take into account that you just eat the sins of the individuals

—inscription carved above the doorway to the Monastery of Alcobaça‘s refectory

Apparently, the Monastery of Alcobaça‘s resident monks had been consuming loads of different issues, too.

Finally their repute for extreme plumpness turned problematic.

A hefty physique might have signified prosperity and well being in 1178 when building started on the UNESCO World Heritage site, however by the 18th-century, these additional rolls of flesh had been thought of at odds with the Cistercian monks’ vows of obedience, poverty and chastity.

Its larders had been nicely stocked, thanks partially to the wealthy farmland surrounding the monastery.

18th-century traveler William Beckford described the kitchen in Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha:

On one aspect, a great deal of recreation and venison had been heaped up; on the opposite, greens and fruit in limitless selection. Past an extended line of stoves prolonged a row of ovens, and near them hillocks of wheaten flour whiter than snow, rocks of sugar, jars of the purest oil, and pastry in huge abundance, which a quite a few tribe of lay brothers and their attendants had been rolling out and puffing up into 100 totally different shapes, singing all of the whereas as blithely as larks in a corn-field.

Later he has the chance to pattern a few of the dishes issuing from that kitchen:

The banquet itself consisted of not solely essentially the most glorious typical fare, however rarities and delicacies of previous seasons and distant nations; beautiful sausages, potted lampreys, unusual messes from the Brazils, and others nonetheless stranger from China (edible birds’ nests and sharks’ fins), dressed after the newest mode of Macao by a Chinese language lay brother. Confectionery and fruits had been out of the query right here; they awaited us in an adjoining nonetheless extra spacious and luxurious condo, to which we retired from the effluvia of viands and sauces.

Later in his travels, he’s taken to satisfy a Spanish princess, who inquires, “How did you permit the fats waddling monks of Alcobaça? I hope you didn’t run races with them.”

Maybe such tattle is what satisfied the brass that one thing should be achieved.

The treatment took the type of a porta pega-gordo (or “fats catcher door”), 6′ 6″ excessive, however solely 12.5” vast.

Understand that David Bowie, at his most slender, had a 26” waist.

Allegedly, every monk was required to cross by way of it from the refectory to the kitchen to fetch his personal meal. Those that couldn’t squeeze by way of had been out of luck.

Did they’ve to sit down within the refectory with their faces to the partitions, silently consuming the sins of the individuals (respicte quia peccata populi comeditis) whereas their slimmer brethren stuffed their bellies, additionally silently, face-to-the-wall, as a reader learn spiritual texts aloud from a pulpit?

Historical past is a bit unclear on this level, although Beckford’s enthusiasm waned when he obtained to the refectory:

…a sq. of seventy or eighty ft, begloomed by dark-coloured painted home windows, and disgraced by tables coated with not the cleanest or least unctuous linen on the planet.

In line with a German Wikipedia entry, the monks handed by way of the porta pega-gordo month-to-month, moderately than day by day, a extra manageable mortification of the flesh for these with wholesome appetites.

Picture through Wikimedia Commons

If you’re assembling a bucket record of locations for after we can journey freely once more, take into account adding this beautiful Gothic monastery (and the celebrated pastry shop throughout the road). Your alternative whether or not or to not suck it in for a photograph in entrance of the porta pega-gordo.

Associated Content material:

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How Tibetan Monks Use Meditation to Raise Their Peripheral Body Temperature 16-17 Degrees

Ayun Halliday is an creator, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She most lately appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York Metropolis searching for meals and which means in Greg Kotis’ brief movie, L’Ourse.  Observe her @AyunHalliday.

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