The Anti-Gluttony Door in Portugal’s Alcobaça Monastery Shamed Plump Monks to Start Fasting


Consider that you just devour the sins of the folks

—inscription carved above the doorway to the Monastery of Alcobaça‘s refectory

Apparently, the Monastery of Alcobaça‘s resident priests have been consuming a lot of different issues, too.

Eventually their recognition for over the top plumpness become problematic.

A hefty body could have signified prosperity and well being in 1178 when development started at the UNESCO World Heritage site, however via the 18th-century, the ones further rolls of flesh have been regarded as at odds with the Cistercian priests’ vows of obedience, poverty and chastity.

Its larders have been smartly stocked, thank you in phase to the wealthy farmland surrounding the monastery.

18th-century traveler William Beckford described the kitchen in Recollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha:

On one facet, a variety of recreation and venison have been heaped up; at the different, fruit and veggies in unending selection. Beyond a protracted line of stoves prolonged a row of ovens, and shut to them hillocks of wheaten flour whiter than snow, rocks of sugar, jars of the purest oil, and pastry in huge abundance, which a a large number of tribe of lay brothers and their attendants have been rolling out and puffing up into 100 other shapes, making a song all of the whilst as blithely as larks in a corn-field.

Later he has the chance to pattern one of the vital dishes issuing from that kitchen:

The dinner party itself consisted of no longer best probably the most superb same old fare, however rarities and cuisine of previous seasons and far-off international locations; beautiful sausages, potted lampreys, bizarre messes from the Brazils, and others nonetheless stranger from China (fit for human consumption birds’ nests and sharks’ fins), dressed after the most recent mode of Macao via a Chinese lay brother. Confectionery and end result have been out of the query right here; they awaited us in an adjacent nonetheless extra spacious and opulent condo, to which we retired from the effluvia of viands and sauces.

Later in his travels, he’s taken to meet a Spanish princess, who inquires, “How did you allow the fats waddling priests of Alcobaça? I am hoping you didn’t run races with them.”

Perhaps such tattle is what satisfied the brass that one thing should be executed.

The treatment took the type of a porta pega-gordo (or “fats catcher door”), 6′ 6″ top, however best 12.5” vast.

Keep in thoughts that David Bowie, at his maximum narrow, had a 26” waist.

Allegedly, each and every monk used to be required to move thru it from the refectory to the kitchen to fetch his personal meal. Those who couldn’t squeeze thru have been out of success.

Did they’ve to take a seat in the refectory with their faces to the partitions, silently consuming the sins of the folks (respicte quia peccata populi comeditis) whilst their slimmer brethren stuffed their bellies, additionally silently, face-to-the-wall, as a reader learn spiritual texts aloud from a pulpit?

History is just a little unclear in this level, although Beckford’s enthusiasm waned when he were given to the refectory:

…a sq. of seventy or 80 toes, begloomed via dark-coloured painted home windows, and disgraced via tables coated with no longer the cleanest or least unctuous linen in the sector.

According to a German Wikipedia entry, the priests handed throughout the porta pega-gordo per 30 days, slightly than day-to-day, a extra manageable mortification of the flesh for the ones with wholesome appetites.

Image by means of Wikimedia Commons

If you might be assembling a bucket record of locations for when we will shuttle freely once more, believe adding this beautiful Gothic monastery (and the celebrated pastry shop around the side road). Your selection whether or not or no longer to suck it in for a photograph in entrance of the porta pega-gordo.

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Ayun Halliday is an creator, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She maximum lately gave the impression as a French Canadian endure who travels to New York City in seek of meals and that means in Greg Kotis’ brief movie, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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