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The refectory of the Convent of Christ, Tomar, Portugal.

A refectory (also frater, frater house, fratery) is a dining room, especially in monasteries, boarding schools, and academic institutions. One of the places the term is most often used today is in graduate seminaries. It derives from the Latin reficere "to remake or restore," via Late Latin refectorium, which means "a place one goes to be restored."

Refectories and monastic culture[edit]

Summer Refectory in the Grand Masters' Palace, Malbork Castle.

Communal meals are the times when all monks of an institution are together. Diet and eating habits differ somewhat by monastic order, and more widely by schedule. The Benedictine rule is illustrative.

The Rule of St Benedict orders two meals. Dinner is provided for year-round; supper is also served from late spring to early fall, except for Wednesdays and Fridays. The diet originally consisted of simple fare: two dishes, with fruit as a third course if available. The food was simple, with the meat of mammals forbidden to all but the sick. Moderation in all aspects of diet is the spirit of Benedict's law. Meals are eaten in silence, facilitated sometimes by hand signals. A single monk might read from the Scriptures or writings of the saints aloud during the meals.

Size, structure, and placement[edit]

Refectories vary in size and dimension, based primarily on wealth and size of the monastery, as well as when the room was built. They share certain design features. Monks eat at long benches; important officials sit at raised benches at one end of the hall. A lavabo, or large basin for hand-washing usually stands outside the refectory.

Tradition also fixes other factors. In England, the refectory is generally built on an undercroft (perhaps in an allusion to the upper room where the Last Supper reportedly took place) on the side of the cloister opposite the church. Benedictine models are traditionally generally laid out on an east-west axis, while Cistercian models lay north-south.

Norman refectories could be as large as 160 feet (49 m) long by 35 feet (11 m) wide (as is that in the abbey at Norwich). Even relatively early refectories might have windows, but these became larger and more elaborate in the high medieval period. The refectory at Cluny Abbey was lit through thirty-six large glazed windows. The twelfth-century abbey at Mont Saint-Michel had six windows, five feet wide by twenty feet high.

Eastern Orthodox[edit]

Trapeza (refectory church) at Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

In Eastern Orthodox monasteries, the Refectory (Greek: τράπεζα, trapeza) is considered a sacred place, and even in some cases is constructed as a full church with Altar and Iconostasis. Some services are intended to be performed specifically in the Trapeza. There is always at least one Icon with a lampada (oil lamp) kept burning in front of it. The service of the Lifting of the Panagia is performed at the end of meals. During Bright Week, this service is replaced with the Lifting of the Artos. In some monasteries, the Ceremony of Forgiveness at the beginning of Great Lent is performed in the Trapeza. All food served in the Trapeza should be blessed, and for that purpose, holy water is often kept in the kitchen.

Modern usage[edit]

As well as continued use of the historic monastic meaning, the word refectory is often used in a modern context to refer to a café or cafeteria that is open to the public—including non-worshipers such as tourists—attached to a cathedral or abbey. This usage is particularly prevalent in Church of England buildings, which use the takings to supplement their income.[1]

Many universities in the UK also call their student cafeteria or dining facilities the refectory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]


  • Adams, Henry, Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres. New York: Penguin, 1986.
  • Fernie, E. C. The Architecture of Norman England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Harvey, Barbara. Living and Dying in England, 1100-1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
  • Singman, Jeffrey. Daily Life in Medieval Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
  • Webb, Geoffrey. Architecture in Britain: the Middle Ages. Baltimore: Penguin, 1956.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refectory — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

2584 news items

Columbus Crave

Columbus Crave
Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:11:41 -0800

His knack for making us smile with every dish, paired with an exceptional wine list and attentive service, breaks The Refectory's stuffy stereotype. The Refectory is not sleek and contemporary. There are no Edison light bulbs, no reclaimed barn wood ...
The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:22:30 -0800

The over-the-top event starts with a luxury coach ride from the Visitors Center to the Castle hilltop, followed by a wine reception, five-course dinner in W.R. Hearst's Refectory dining room and other activities. Tickets for members of Friends of ...

The San Luis Obispo Tribune

The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:26:15 -0800

A week later, Friends will host its popular (and pricey, at $1,250 a ticket/$1,000 for members) Holiday Feast, complete with luxury coach ride to the hilltop, wine reception and five-course meal served in the Refectory dining room. Levkoff called it ...

Columbus Dispatch

Columbus Dispatch
Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:50:14 -0800

Still, even in a faster-paced, value-oriented world, Gosetto thinks there is room in Columbus for more traditional French cuisine — in addition to the Refectory — done correctly. “If somebody were to come in and open a cozy French restaurant that is ...


Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:34:38 -0800

... Peders Stræde 34, 0045 33 95 77 00; brochner-hotels.dk/our-hotels/sp34) is the newest boutique in town, and comfortably hip, with moody slate-grey decor, cosy public areas (which host the daily 'wine hour'), and an industrial-chic breakfast ...
Duke Chronicle
Sun, 20 Apr 2014 23:23:35 -0700

The Refectory's contract has not been renewed, said Laura Hall, founder and chief executive of Bon Vivant Catering, which runs the café. The decision comes several months after Hall filed a legal complaint against Duke for its actions regarding the ...
Duke Chronicle
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 00:43:46 -0700

The space's former tenant, the Law Refectory Cafe, had been on campus since 2008. It was launched after the success of its sister restaurant, the Refectory Cafe in the Divinity School, and the pair became popular with many students and faculty—named ...
Duke Chronicle
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:42:44 -0700

The June 22 departure of the Refectory Café will come two years after the closure of its sister restaurant, the Refectory Café in the Divinity School. Owner Laura Hall left the Divinity School location after refusing to increase the commission paid to ...

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