It might still feel like summer in South Carolina, but the Christmas season is just around the corner. Mepkin Abbey
, one of the most spiritual and uplifting places in the state, will begin taking reservations for their annual Crèche Festival on Oct. 1. Thousands of people flood the abbey every year during the festival, so early reservations are recommended.
Mepkin Abbey is home to a group of Cistercian (or Trappist) monks. The brothers live, pray, and work together at the abbey. Luckily for us, part of their mission is to welcome guests and share the richness of their religious traditions and the beauty of their vibrant abbey grounds and gardens.
Visitors are welcome at the abbey for guided tours Tuesday-Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., and on Sundays for a 3 p.m. tour. Mepkin is closed to visitors on Mondays. The tour takes you through the main grounds and points out some of the architectural highlights, such as the unique bell tower, called the Tower of the Seven Spirits. The tower is dedicated to the seven spirits of Mepkin: the Native Americans who first inhabited the land; the Laurens family who owned the land when it was a plantation; the African-American slaves who toiled there; the Luce family who donated the land to the monks; the brothers who have passed on; the brothers who live at the abbey now; and the brothers who will live there in the future.
The really special part of the tour, however, is the opportunity to sit in on one of the brothers’ prayers. It is part of the Trappist mission to make sure that somewhere in the world, at every time of day, there are Trappist monks praying for the fate of all mankind. It’s a comforting thought, and witnessing the peace and calm of the brothers’ prayers can be profound, regardless of one’s faith.
The Christmas season is the perfect time to visit Mepkin Abbey. Not only does the peaceful and spiritual setting remind us of the best of the season, but the Crèche Festival also provides a unique opportunity to view a rotating selection of Nativity scenes from the brothers’ vast collection. Nativity sets from around the world will be on display. The collection is diverse, ranging from lovely, realistic ceramic pieces to bold, abstract metal designs to rustic wood scenes.
Groups of 10 and fewer will be able to reserve Crèche Festival time slots for Nov. 15-21 and Nov. 26-28. Online reservations will be available here
starting Oct. 1. Larger groups will be welcomed at the abbey on Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1-4. Reservations for large groups can be made by calling the Mepkin Abbey Store at (843) 761-8509.
Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to celebrate the Christmas season with the Brothers of Mepkin Abbey.