VINA, Calif. - Worship services could begin early next year inside the new church at the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux in Vina.
Construction, which began 25 years ago, is nearly completed on the church at the 600-acre spiritual oasis one mile west of Highway 99 in Vina. More than 800-year-old medieval stones were used in the construction.
Four years ago, Master Mason Frank Helmholz completed the magnificent interior of the church using stones from a Cistercian monastery in Spain. The stones were once owned by William Randolph Hearst but were found languishing in San Francisco.
Medieval stones will be included on the altar, the presider's chair and the area where the monks themselves will worship.
The gorgeous place of worship will not be reserved only for the 16 monks who live inside the cloister at the abbey, as the public will be invited to its regular services once completed.
Fundraising has been the biggest obstacle in its completion, as the office of development estimates it needs $3.5 million to complete the church.
Sadly, many monks who had hoped to worship inside this masterpiece have died.
"It reminds me of Moses as never having gotten into the Promised Land," said Father Paul Mark, a Catholic priest and the abbot of the monastery.
But the abbot believes their memories will echo through the building.
"It will prove to be a very profound place of prayer, worship and of the engagement of the heart with the divine," he said.
The architecture and history of the church will also be appreciated and studied by believers and non-believers.
"This is a 12th Century medieval building here in Vina, California.," said the abbot. "Just in the whole continent of North America this is a unique building."
More information on New Clairvaux can be found here: link.