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Tips for planning stay at convents in Rome and other parts of world

SHARE Tips for planning stay at convents in Rome and other parts of world

If you want to stay at a monastery or convent in Italy, it is best to make reservations early, especially since this is the Jubilee Year and thousands of Catholics are making pilgrimages to Rome.

But where to begin? Dozens of guidebooks and Web sites will list a few religious houses. One place to start is www.initaly.com.

For a more complete listing, there are two newly published books: "A Guide to Lodging in Italy's Monasteries," by Eileen Barish, Anacapa Press; and "Bed and Blessings in Italy: A Guide to Convents and Monasteries," by June and Anne Walsh, Paulist Press.

And what if you want to extend your peaceful vacation to other parts of the world? As it happens, Barish and the Walshes are all in the process of doing research and writing similar books about other countries. Meanwhile, a retired U.S. Army officer, James Hughes, has recently written "Overnight or Short Stays at Religious Houses Around the World," Hugen Press.

Bear in mind that different convents and monasteries will have different expectations of their visitors. In some places you may be served three meals a day. You may find yourself in a dorm room. In some places there are rules about attending Mass. You may be asked not to speak to the monks or nuns. In some religious houses, there is no fixed room rate; in which case, you should make a contribution.