A real Cistercian
community was therefore established at Skelldale: there were buildings and
workshops, the monks had an abbot and an identity. Numbers increased
as recruits now joined the community as novices. Life, however, was far from
easy. The community lacked resources and was badly affected by the famine of
1133 that devastated the country. The monks had neither food nor money for
let alone the crowd of hungry men who allegedly flocked to them for help.
Give and you shall receive
It was at this time that a traveller arrived at the gate of Fountains,
seeking bread in the name of Christ. The porter explained that there
was no bread to be had, but the man was persistent and refused to leave
until he had been refreshed.
trusty elm tree that had afforded them shelter in the early days was once
again a source of refuge. This time it provided sustenance for
the monks who picked
its leaves and made this into a bitter soup (pottage), along with herbs they
had gathered. The group of reform-minded monks who had fled from St Mary’s
seeking simplicity and austerity now knew the true meaning of poverty.