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Church featuring medieval stones dedicated at "oasis of mercy" in Vina

The new church at the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux was officially dedicated Monday in Vina.

Father Jaime Soto, the Bishop of the Sacramento Diocese, presided over the 2-hour long mass that was by invitation only.

The service was filled with the awe-inspiring voices of the brothers of New Clairvaux, including prayers of gratitude that the unique and historic church was completed so that older monks can worship there during their lifetimes.

"Oh, yes, that's been a very profound gift," said Father Paul Mark Schwan, the Abbot of the Cistercian Roman Catholic monastery that was founded in Vina in 1955. "Many (monks) are in our cemetery who had hoped to see the completion of this."

While the church is used for the 18 monks who reside in the monastery, the public is welcome to attend any of their seven services Monday through Saturday and a few that take place on Sunday.

Besides its religious significance, the church has deep historic roots, as two thirds of the stones that make up the church's interior come from a Spanish Cistercian monastery dating back to the 12th Century.

The stones were once owned by William Randolph Hearst, but languished in San Francisco until a young monk, Thomas X. Davis, saw them before entering the Vina monastery six decades ago.

After Davis became a priest and ultimately the monastery's abbot, he secured the stones in 1991.

Father Davis is still alive today and took part in Monday's service.

It took 26 years and several millions of dollars of donations to finish the project.

"This place can be a beacon on a hill," said Father Soto. "And it can be that oasis of mercy where folks can get away from stuff that bothers them and find peace and mercy that can restore them."

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