These Nuns From Indiana Are Modernizing Their Monastery In A Delicious Way

These days, a monastery can seem like a relic of a bygone era—one filled with lords, fair maidens, and (if you love “The Sound of Music” as much as I do) Julie Andrews singing in the lush, green foothills of the Swiss Alps—but these traditional religious communities are still alive and well around the globe.

Historically, monasteries served as a space for devout followers to separate themselves from the public, allowing monks and nuns to dedicate their lives to strict study, prayer, and practice of spiritual disciplines. Many assume this that lifestyle is one of quiet solitude, but the Sisters of St. Benedict are about to completely redefine your concept of convents.

These are NOT your average nuns.

Though Benedictine Orders can be traced all the way back to the sixth century, the Sisters of Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana are determined to modernize their ministry, while still honoring the traditions and tenets of their faith. While many contemporary nuns have set aside the iconic black and white habits for special occasions, the Sisters from Ferdinand have updated more than just their wardrobe.

In their own words: “We are a monastery, not a mortuary.”

With this active attitude in mind, the Sisters have challenged outdated stereotypes of their devotional lifestyle by welcoming visitors into their awe-inspiring chapel and even offer guided tours of the pristine monastery grounds. But our favorite part? Their glorious baked goods! (And sense of humor!) Guests visiting the enormous sanctuary, nicknamed the “Castle on the Hill,” inevitably find themselves lined up at the playfully-named “Simply Divine Bakery” for tasty homemade treats truly worthy of a “Hallelujah!”

The founding Benedictine Sisters came to Ferdinand from Germany in 1867 and brought with them an impressive collection of traditional German recipes. Nearly 150 years later, many are still baked fresh daily—they even use an original Almerle cookie mold carried by the founders to America! One of their bestselling cookies, the anise-flavored holiday springerles, have been baked nearly every year since the monastery opened.

The recipes, too, have a rich (and delicious) history: their special Hildegard cookies come straight from the cookbook of St. Hildegard herself! St. Hildegard, a Benedictine abbess from the Middle Ages, was a woman of many talents, far ahead of her time—she was a scientist, artist, and royal adviser who specialized in natural medicine and integrative physical-spiritual healing.

All of these mouth-watering treats are available for sale online through the Monastery Gift Shop (formerly “For Heaven’s Sake” Gift Shop—the nun-puns alone are enough to make you love these clever Sisters!). In addition to baked goodies, the Sisters of St. Benedict sell unique gifts items, including handcrafted soaps and lotions, artwork, greeting cards, jewelry, quilts, and (of course) rosaries.

Now, we could continue on to rave about Monastery Immaculate Conception’s 87-foot-tall domed chapel, detailed stained glass windows, and stunning landscape (complete with a labyrinth pathway for peaceful walking meditation), but this little slice of Heaven is truly beyond words—you must see it for yourself to fully appreciate its grand beauty.

While you are there, don’t forget to thank the witty and talented Sisters for bringing us cheer…and cookies!

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