I have to hand it to William Randolph Hearst.
+ + +
My pilgrimage to the monastery in North Miami
unearthed a surprising backstory.
+ 1133-1144 A. D. The Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels was built in Segovia, Spain.
Upon the canonization of Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk,
the monastery was renamed in his honor and
Cistercian monks occupied the monastery for nearly 700 years.
+ 1835 A.D. Due to a social revolution in the area, the Cloisters were seized, sold,
and converted into a granary and stable.
A stable? Really?
(Originally, the cloisters had no flooring.)
+ 1925 A. D. Newspaper mogul and antiquities collector Hearst purchased the Cloisters.
Dismantled stone by stone and bound with protective hay, the structures were packed in 11,000 crates, numbered for identification and shipped to the United States.
About that time, hoof and mouth disease broke out in Segovia.
The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture quarantined the shipment, broke open the crates and burned the hay, fearing it was a possible carrier of the disease.
Unfortunately, the workmen failed to replace the stones in the same numbered boxes
before moving them to a warehouse.
As soon as the shipment arrived, Hearst's financial problems forced
most of his collection to be sold at auction.
The stones remained in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York for 26 years.
+ 1953 A. D. One year after Hearst's death, Messrs. W. Edgemon and R. Moss
purchased the stones for use as a tourist attraction.
It took 19 months and $1.5 million dollars to put the monastery back together.
+ 1964 A.D. Bishop Henry Louttit purchased the property for the
Diocese of Central, Southeast and Southwest Florida.
Shortly thereafter, the monastery was put up for sale.
Col. Robert Pentland, Jr. a multimillionaire banker, philanthropist and benefactor of many Episcopal churches, purchased the Cloisters and presented them to the parish of
St. Bernard de Clairvaux in North Miami, Florida.
Today, the Cloisters are a popular setting for weddings, fashion photography, tourist sightseeing,
and masses held in the chapel (once the monks' dining hall).
The cloisters make a comfortable home for six cats
who live on the grounds and in the gardens.
The cat lady comes to feed them every day.