When my husband and I were in San Antonio recently, we visited a local handmade beauty products shop. I love visiting handmade shops like this and seeing what other artisans have come up with. My people…
While we were there, I noticed a display of soap made by the local Poor Claires of St. Michael the Archangel Monastery. The shopkeeper told me the nuns were raising money to build a new monastery, one bar of soap at a time. Of course I wanted to help and I got a high quality bar of soap in the process.
Some religious communities support their way of life by providing education, like the Cistercian Monks at Our Lady of Dallas. Many monasteries and abbeys give retreats. A few still support their lifestyle by selling handmade goods like the nuns at St. Michael the Archangel.
In a world where it seems like we can’t even trust our own food supply, religious sisters and brothers are creating products with integrity to support a life of prayer. Here is a list of places where you can buy quality products from these folks and help support their ministries:
- Monastery Greetings: I found this site while trying to search for the Trappist Jam I enjoyed in Massachusetts (details below). They have a wide variety of items (religious items and beer seem to be the most popular) from different monasteries and abbeys.
- Trappist Preserves: Usually I get my jams and jellies from my grandma, but when we were visiting Massachusetts and needed fixings for PB&J, I was forced to find some in the grocery store. This product was a pleasant surprise. I expected that monks would create preserves with integrity and without any ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. We were not disappointed, and it tasted great too! Learn more about St. Joseph’s Abbey.
- Serrv: Not technically from religious brothers or sister, but still a great cause. This is a non-profit fair-trade partner with Catholic Relief Services. They help local artisans all over the world get their products to market and help create stability in the communities they serve. You can find so many things here from chocolate, to dresses, to birdhouses…
- Mystic Monk Coffee: Need to wake up for early morning prayer (or whatever else us lay-people do)? The monks from the Carmelite Monastery in Cody, Wyoming have you covered. All of your coffee needs could be met from this website. They even have K-Cups (called Monk Shots).
- The Cloister Shoppe: This shoppe supports the Dominican Nuns in Summit, New Jersey. They have a wide variety of products including handmade wood pens, candles, and skin care items. They have a particular line of soaps called Seignadou Soap (the name comes from French and means “Sign of God”).
- The Brigittine Monks Gourmet Confections: This is a great place to get your chocolate fix. The Brigittine Monks at Our Lady of Consolation Priory in Amity, Oregon produce small-batch gourmet fudge and truffles.
- Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts: According to their website, these guys are known for their coffee, fudge, southern-style fruitcake, and flaky biscotti. Sales support the Trappist monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.
- Monastery Candy: These nuns know their way around caramel and chocolate. According to their website, they were featured in Reader’s Digest’s “America’s 100 Best.” Their shop features caramel, chocolates, mints, etc. and sales support the nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.
- Monastery Creations: Who needs Lush? These ladies sell hand-made soaps and bath scrubs. Many of their products are beautifully packaged in gift sets and sometimes they have a deal of the day. Sales support the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. They also produce low-gluten and gluten-free altar breads if you happen to be in the market for that.
- Monastery Fruitcake: This abbey bakery specializes in fruitcake, truffles, and creamed honey. They use a special heating process with their honey that preserves the natural enzymes and produces a more nutritious product than commercial honey. Sales support Holy Cross Abbey in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
- Monks Specialty Bakery: The monks of Genesee Abbey near Rochester, New York specialize in sliced bread, coffee, and other specialty foods.
- New Skete: Purchases from this shop support a community of Byzantine Rite Franciscan monks, Poor Claire nuns, and companions. They specialize in two very different types of products: cheesecakes and dog products.
- Redwoods Monastery: The ladies of Redwoods Monastery in Northern California specialize in raw, creamed honey and hand-made greeting cards.
- Sinsinawa Bakery: This bakery, which supports the Dominican Sisters in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, specializes in a variety of home-made breads.
- Subiaco Abbey: The monks of Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas sell a variety of products such as peanut brittle, calligraphy and wood carvings, in addition to religious items. According to their website, their best seller is Habanero Hot Sauce made from peppers grown on the Abbey grounds.
- Trappistine Quality Candy: These sisters have been making quality candy to support their community since 1956. Though they offer a wide variety of caramel and chocolates, they are most known for Butternut Munch, a chocolate-covered toffee with nuts that they developed. Sales support the Trappestine sisters at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, Massachussetts.
- All Good Things Arts and Gifts: This online store contains an eclectic mix of items such as prayer pillows, jewelry, and body wash. Sales support the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio.
- Gethsemani Farms: Fruitcake and fudge as well as some items from other monasteries and abbeys are sold here. Sales support the Trappist monks of central Kentucky.
- Camelite Hermit’s Kitchen: The Hermits of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel in Christoval, Texas offer jams, jellies, honey, and baked goods.
- Nonavita Bar Soap: This is the soap I bought in San Antonio! They offer foaming hand soap and bar soap in a dozen unique scents. All of their products are organic. Sales support the Poor Claire Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in San Antonio and go toward building their new monastery.
- St. John’s Abbey Market: Items for sale include candles, art prints, sculpture, and wood cutting boards. The candles recall different locations in the abbey and different aspects of abbey life. My favorite is called Stella Maris (named after a chapel on Lake Sagatan). Sales support the Benedictine monks at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.
I would like to create a more comprehensive list and I know there are non-Catholic communities making great products as well like this Romanian Orthodox Church where they sell honey (which unfortunately you’d have to visit). If you know of any places like this, please comment below.
Note: When I was crowd sourcing for this list, a friend of mine sent me this page from anunslife.org. I followed the leads and that was how I found several of these sites for my list. However, I added my own descriptions and in some places fixed broken links. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due and say thank you to the lovely ladies who originally complied this list.
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