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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. The term is rare at American colleges, although Brown University calls its main dining hall the Sharpe Refectory (nicknamed the "Ratty").[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Sharpe Refectory (the Ratty)". Brown Dining Services. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 


  • 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.

7178 news items

Yorkshire Evening Post

Yorkshire Evening Post
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 07:52:10 -0800

And so this has led to the Leeds University Refectory on a wet and windy Sunday night. PBS live at last following the cancellation of the Leeds gig last November. It was worth the wait. This London-based duo, with the pseudonyms of J Wilgoose esq ...
Ohio's Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net
Wed, 10 Feb 2016 09:09:05 -0800

Chef Brian Dematteo of the Refectory Restaurant and Bistro in Columbus was named Superior Chef while Matthew Langstaff of Prohibition Gastro Lounge in Powell was selected Premier Chef. Langstaff also earned the People's Choice Award. This year each ...


Tue, 09 Feb 2016 04:11:32 -0800

O'Donnell returned Monday for a meeting at the Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S. King Drive, with ideas that could take more than 15 years to complete and cost millions of dollars — with no funding source yet identified. Her broadest recommendation ...

Hartford Courant

Hartford Courant
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 07:00:00 -0800

Mark Almodovar, guitarist in Wallingford band Yuppy Flu, plays bass; he replaced Robbie Vozza, who left at the end of last year to work on his own music (as The Refectory). Vozza took over from Ashley Kenney (now in Witch Hair). There's a Venn diagram ...


Wed, 10 Feb 2016 12:26:15 -0800

Despite once being vandalised by Austrian soldiers, The Feast of St Gregory the Great, still hangs in the former refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria of Mount Berico, and offers a rare unique to see how Veronese's composition and perspectives ...
The News Minute
Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:24:57 -0800

His circulatory shock is now refectory to all drugs in maximum permissible doses and his kidneys remain non-functional. His pneumonia has worsened and the blood clotting disorder shows no sign of reversal despite blood component support. He is on ...

Dayton Business Journal (blog)

Dayton Business Journal (blog)
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 03:03:45 -0800

The Ohio ones are The Leopard Restaurant (Aurora), Boca Restaurant (Cincinnati), Nicola's (Cincinnati), The Celestial Steakhouse (Cincinnati), The Palace Restaurant (Cincinnati), Lola (Cleveland), M at Miranova (Columbus) and The Refectory Restaurant ...

A.V. Club

A.V. Club
Sun, 07 Feb 2016 19:05:10 -0800

Cora does best delivering fragments of the house's history, but when a visitor asks if the refectory that makes up the great hall is the source of Downton Abbey's name, Cora's dumbfounded for a beat before blurting out, “I guess so!” Even in her rage ...

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