The body of an adult male
contains approximately 9 1/2 pints of blood. During a modern blood donation
session about 3/4 pint (450ml) is removed.
The bloodletting took place in the warming-house, usually in
the late morning or early afternoon. A fire was lit in preparation
and the monk
could have a bite to eat in the refectory before undergoing the
procedure. He would certainly need this extra sustenance for
the monk was drained to
the point of unconsciousness and might lose up to four pints
of blood. This weakened him considerably and he required time
to recuperate. In the twelfth
century, he recovered in the dormitory, cloister and chapter-house,
but from the early thirteenth century the monk rested in the
he enjoyed a more relaxed diet and relief from the daily round
of work and liturgical offices.
During this period of recovery,
the monk did not participate
in the chants; nor did he read. Most monks who held an office
not expected to carry out any of their duties after they
had been bloodlet, and their deputies filled in. This did not apply
to the main office-bearers,
such as the prior, sacrist, cellarer and novice-master.
On the third day after his bloodletting, the monk joined the
rest of the community for some
of the Offices and
might read in the cloister; on the fourth day he was expected to play
a full part in the daily life,
although he did not necessarily
engage in manual labour.