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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.
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166 news items

Durham Herald Sun

Durham Herald Sun
Sun, 13 Jul 2014 20:56:15 -0700

A “refectory” is the name of a dining hall typically found in a monastery. In 2008, she also bid and won a contract to open a second location at the Duke Law School. After seven years, the Divinity School location closed in 2012, and the Law School ...
Business Standard
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 00:30:40 -0700

A lavish feast was given to over 52 elephants, including babies, at the Sree Vadakkunnathan temple here this morning under the auspices of Vadakkunnathan Temple Protection Council. The chief priest of the temple Kottampilly Narayanan Namboodiri ...
Columbus Business First (blog)
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:31:09 -0700

The restaurant is overseen by Chef Julian Menaged, most recently from The Refectory Restaurant & Bistro, who will serve French- and Italian-influenced small plates using local and seasonal ingredients. Prices are $7 to $20. Much of the meat and produce ...
Manchester Confidential
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 00:58:16 -0700

It's alongside a 250-cover refectory-style eaterie, all part of the renewal of the historic site. Blackjack will be the exclusive beer supplier, offering a range of cask and bottles from independent suppliers and acting as beer sommeliers, recommending ...
Catholic Online
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 23:58:32 -0700

The occasion marked the first time that Pope Francis has lunched with Vatican employees. Customarily, he dines in the refectory of Domus Sanctae Marthae at a reserved table. The Pope spent about an hour dining at a table with around 10 other people.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:07:04 -0700

DURHAM, N.C. — The owner of The Refectory Café started on Duke University's campus with a mission to change the model for quick-service food and to be the school's first "green café." Now that the business is located entirely off-campus at a single ...
The Japan Times
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 22:15:00 -0700

They call their Spencer Trappist Ale a “refectory ale” that pairs well with the simple food of their mostly vegetarian diet. After touring breweries packed into centuries-old monastery buildings, they also decided to build a modern, highly automated ...
Whitsunday Times
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:00:00 -0700

THE army is coming to town. So are the navy and the air force. And they are looking for women. The ADF is coming to north Queensland on a recruiting drive for regional women. Army recruitment ambassador Captain Jessica Boyd explains why. "Regional ...

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