Flashback Photos

Flashback Photo: Trappist Monks in Rhode Island, 1928

Trappist Monks in Cumberland, R.I. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Trappist Monks in Cumberland, R.I. Photo courtesy Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Longtime Boston Herald photographer Leslie Jones took this photo of Trappist monks at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Valley in Cumberland, R.I., in 1928. His caption for the photo read, ‘Monks in Rhode Island, a very hard picture to get.’

The monks, formally known as the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, did not speak, communicating through sign language. They raised their own food and ate little -- mostly bread, vegetables and tea or coffee. Meat was only given to those who were ill.

The Cistercians had originally lived in Nova Scotia until a fire destroyed the Abbey of Petit Clairvaux in 1892. The order bought 530 acres in Cumberland from the Providence Diocese in 1900 and completed the first building in 1902. The church was dedicated in 1928, the year Jones took the photo.

The monastery burned down in 1950, and the monks decided to rebuild in Spencer, Mass. The site is now occupied by the Cumberland Public Library.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Molly Landrigan

    March 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    A good friend of mine entered the order in Spencer, MA but his health couldn’t take the rigorous diet so he was forced to leave.

  2. Marsin Lysik

    March 27, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Hey, Rhode Island, that’s me!

  3. Marsin Lysik

    March 27, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Hey, Rhode Island, that’s me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top