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California fires destroy hilltop monastery


LOS ANGELES (RNS) The wildfires that have burned approximately 40,000 acres and hundreds of homes in Southern California have also destroyed a historic Episcopal monastery set on a hill in Santa Barbara.

Nancy Bullock, guesthouse director for the Mount Calvary Monastery and Guesthouse, said because the 20,000-square-foot Spanish-style home was situated on a hill, residents could see the fire coming before it reached the monastery early on the morning of Nov. 14.

Bullock said the only painting saved was a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe that hung in the monastery’s chapel. Flames also destroyed an antique gold altar from South America and a 17th-century painting depicting Jesus healing a paralytic, along with nearly everything else.

Mount Calvary has been in operation since 1948 and is one of four monastic communities belonging to the Order of the Holy Cross. The U.S. and Canada are home to 23 distinct Anglican religious orders in all.

Making hospitality one of its principal ministries, Mount Calvary played host to more than 2,000 visitors each year.