On the Chocolate Trail

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Chocolate Signals

The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of Trappistine Quality Candy at Mount St. Mary’s Abbey, sequestered deep in the woods of Wrentham, Mass. The candy business fits into a long tradition of the chocolate interests of earlier Cistercian (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, more commonly known as Trappistine) monks in Spain, which included their chocolate room at the Monastery at Poblet, Spain.

Sister Christa-Maria explained how her group transitioned from being totally silent to using more verbal language in 2001. The silence had focused them on essentials of spiritual life; yet, they are not hermits, they live in community, there are relationships. It was extremely difficult to have healthy connections without discussing issues; how really resolve differences, since work issues carried over to prayer. Now they balance verbal language with communication through silent hand signals, which includes unique signs for chocolate.

Here is Sister Christa-Maria’s beautiful demonstration of the awesome, proprietary Benedictine sign language for chocolate related words.

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