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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 23:37 GMT
Drunken guest leaves silent monks sleepless

Monks of Caldey Island The monks grew exasperated with their guest

An order of monks living under a vow of silence were unable to shut up a drunken guest who sang into the night.

Unemployed Ray John, 58, from Fishguard, has been visiting the 19 Cistercian monks on Caldey Island, west Wales, for the past 30 years.

Mr John had gone to Caldey for Christmas but unfortunately had something of a disagreement with one of the monks.
Solicitor Michael Kelleher
Magistrates at Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, heard that on his latest visit Mr John had brought alcohol with him. The inebriated guest then started a solo midnight performance of his favourite Christmas carols.

Abbot Father Daniel Van Santvoort said: "He was up all night making a terrible racket. We observe a vow of silence but it wasn't a very silent night - even if it was Christmas.

"We couldn't tell him to hush so I'm afraid some of us had very little peace that night.

Monks in chapel The monks have taken a vow of silence

"All we could do was lie in our beds and cover our ears."

The Roman Catholic monks observe a strict rule of silence for 12 hours every night.

John was asked to leave the island the next day but he continued to drink on the mainland where police found him collapsed on a railway line.

The court fined him 50 for being drunk and disorderly.

Michael Kelleher, defending, said: "Mr John had gone to Caldey for Christmas but unfortunately had something of a disagreement with one of the monks.

"He came back on Christmas Eve feeling rather depressed and got drunk again.

"He was rescued by police for which he is very, very grateful indeed."

Father Daniel is leader of the monks on the island, which is reached by a two-mile boat trip from the resort of Tenby.

'Under the influence'

Mr John stayed in a guesthouse attached to the monastery which is used as a retreat for outsiders.

Father Daniel said: "He is a Welsh speaker and was going to teach me some of the language during his stay.

"But he was under the influence when he arrived and carried on drinking in his room."

Although the monks' hearing may have been dented, their sense of charity is still intact. Father Daniel added that John, who has studied theology and is a favourite guest of the monks, would be welcome to return in the future.

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See also:
15 Dec 99 |  Wales
Monks receive Lottery boost for repairs

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