Drawing of Patrons

Today after Terce we gathered in our Chapter Hall for the Drawing of Patrons and Intentions—an old custom in contemplative communities. Every Order has a little different twist on the custom and our little family tradition has its roots in our Dominican monasteries in France.

Once everyone is gathered the Prioress calls forward the three youngest sisters in the community. They gather around the life-sized Infant lying in a manger made of birch logs.

In front of this is a kneeler. The youngest sister calls forth the name of the first sister, her name having been pulled at random from a tray of cards. After sister takes her place before the Infant the next sister reads out her patron for the year. Then the third sister reads out the scripture quote (or sometimes a pious saying) and her prayer intention for the year. Sister kisses the feet of the Infant Jesus in gratitude and makes her way back to her place and the next sister is called. There are also patrons and intentions for the Community and Novitiate and Father Chaplain. Sometimes the quotes and intentions are fitting, sometimes amusing!

This year during this Year of the Eucharist Sr. Mary Martin chose passages from Scripture referring to the gift of the Holy Eucharist. The Community received from the Infant Jesus:

  • Patron: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (This was met with a round of applause!)
  • Intention: Pray for Father Chaplain
  • Quote: I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. —John 22:15

Later, someone will calligraph this. This is then framed and hung outside the refectory. The Novitiate does the same for theirs.

After all the sisters have received their patrons and intentions we sing the Magnificat antiphon for the community patron. (We bring our breviaries with us to Chapter.) Then we go to the Community Room to greet each other, compare patrons and intentions and quotes and break open a Christmas box of chocolates! After about an hour, recreation formally closes although the sisters are free to talk quietly the rest of the day.

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