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Premonstratensians - Norbertine Sisters

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The Communities of Praemonstratensian Canonesses from Toro and from Villoria de Orbigo (Leon) form a unique pair in Spain. First it was a double monastery of the Praemonstratensian Fathers of San Miguel de Grox, following the custom of the Order in the Middle Ages. We located the foundation of our Monastery in 1162, at the time of Alfonso VIII, who donated to the Premonstratensians of Alba of Tormes the mount of San Miguel and fields in the village of Pobladura de los Huertos. It is 7 kilometres away from the city of Toro. In 1304, the five surviving Sisters of the double Monastery of San Miguel de Grox were transferred to the house of Santa Sofia in Pobladura de los Huertos, which was already owned by Praemonstratensians. The Fathers donated it to the Sisters in June 12 1304 together with the surrounding land. It was difficult for the Sisters to live there in those years, so they moved in winter into the palace, that they were given by Queen Dna, Maria of Molina, wife of King D. Sancho IV on 20 September 1316. The palace of Maria de Molina was in good shape when the Premonstratensian Sisters arrived, but soon they had to remodel and adapt it to their conventual life. Juan XXII published a Bull in 1329, granting indulgences to those who helped with the work of the Convent. Queen Maria de Molina was considered to be the founder of the Monastery, so rooms were always prepared for her. The Abbey of San Miguel de Grox was suppressed in 1449, after being destroyed by the war in 1385. All the goods were passed to the Sisters of Santa Sofia. The General Chapter of 1460 recognized the rights of Santa Sofia. In 1507 the Sisters confirmed for the first time their membership as Premonstratensians. At this time our Monastery of Toro founded Villoria de Orbigo. Around 1573 and 1594 the circaria of Spain broke all relations with Premontre. After reforming, according to the suggested principles of the Order, the circaria was called "Hispanic Congregation of the Premonstratensian Order". They no longer wanted to take care of the Monasteries of the Sisters and they saw themselves forced to go under the jurisdiction of the Bishops. Previously because the Order had not taken care of them, the female Monasteries of Freznillo, Brazacorton, Sordillos and others disappeared. During the 16th and 17th centuries, several Sisters of Toro lived in sanctity; Sister Catherine Vazquez and Geronima Vela used such old habits, that for her funeral they had to use the habit of another Sister. Juana of Marina (1636) performed difficult exercises of penance. Francisca of Ulloa was ordered by the Bishop to reform convents of other religious families. The brave Prioress, Ana de Monrroy, was sent to jail by the Bishop before leaving the habit and statutes of the Order. Others like Juana Cuevas and Catherine of Grove died in sanctity. From 1739 to 1952 the Monastery had Abbesses again, although it was set on fire by anti-clericals in 1834. In the middle of the 19th century the community had an average of 18 Sisters and during this period relations with the Order settled again. Between 1836 and 1852 furniture and fittings and most of the files were confiscated; and so today we are without many of our historical documents.

Our community life: Our life is based on oratio and work. We have an average of 6 hours prayer daily: Eucharist, liturgical personal oration and adoration. Each day we sing the complete Laudes, Eucharist and Vespers and several days we include the Office of Reading and the intermediate hour of Sext. Every Sunday, on Holy Days and every Wednesday we have Adoration from 15.30 to 19.30, our church is open to all the faithful. On the first Thursday of every month, we have an additional hour of Adoration at night. And since March 2008 we have daily adoration from 19:00 to 20:00. Throughout the year, one Sister is accompanying the Lord all day, each day a different Sister. We have two recreations a day, one after lunch and the other after supper. On Thursday evenings we have a longer recreation while we work.


Sister playing the organ

Sisters in the choir

We continue to have capitulum faults daily, except on Sunday. Cloister: Up to now we have had a Papal cloister, but two year ago we requested the sagrada Congregatión to change to a Constitutional cloister, because we think that it is better adapted to our canonical life and to our Premonstratensian charisma. On the 6th October the community received some wonderful news. After five years in the Sacred Congregation and six months in our Bishopric, we received the approval of our own cloister which in future will be called Constitutional Cloister instead of Papal Cloister. We are very grateful to Abbot Ward Cortvriendt, the president of the Commission of Sisters, who negotiated to obtain a reply from the Sacred Congregation. Our Work: The Community has a small tailoring workshop, where our Sisters work for a living. All the able sisters participate in all the community work by doing cooking, sacristy work, cleaning, washing up and cultivating the garden and orchard. Each sister has her own job; when finished she has to go to the community work in the tailoring. Guest House: Our guest house is open to priests and religious people who want to have a retreat taking part with us in the Liturgy or simple rest. It is also open to young people who wish to get to know our way of life or need a spiritual accompaniment.


Sisters in the garden

Sisters working at the sewing machine

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