BETHLEHEM — The Abbey of Regina Laudis will launch its annual Christmas Sale Friday, November 29, the day after Thanksgiving, and continue each Saturday and Sunday thereafter through December 22. Because Thanksgiving falls late this year, the shop will be open for four weekends instead of the usual five; however, for the first time this year, it will remain open from 10 a.m. straight through until 4 p.m., without closing for lunch.
With the New Horizons renovation project still underway, the Christmas Sale will once again take the form of a “pop-up shop” in the abbey’s Jubilee Barn, located at 249 Flanders Rd., just north of the main entrance.
“Our pop-up sales have proved very popular,” said Sister John Mary Adshead, who manages the Monastic Art Shop and oversees the yearly sale.
“This will be our last pop-up this Christmas as we look forward to our new shop which will open next year,” she said. “We will continue to offer a wide range of crafts from our Abbey artists and artisans.”
The “lotions and potions” crafted by Sister John Mary are among the sale’s most popular gift items.
“We’ll have lots of creamy, nourishing soaps this year,” she said. “All the soaps are made incorporating ingredients from our land, from honey and beeswax, milk from our cows and herbs from our herb garden, such as lavender, calendula, lemon verbena and lemongrass.”
The soaps are rich in shea butter for its extra nourishing and moisturizing benefits, she said, while also using beeswax for a harder, longer-lasting bar.
New this year is Tree of Life, an attractive molded soap with a warm, woodsy fragrance infused with the heavenly scent of pine.
Created to celebrate a forest management program currently underway on the abbey land, Tree of Life soap is presented in a green organza bag, perfect for gift-giving.
Soothing lotions to be available include Dew of Lemon with lanolin and Lavender Shea Cream with shea butter, French lavender essential oil, vitamin E and the abbey’s own beeswax.
There will be a variety of abbey-made perfumes, scented mists and the ever-popular Shampooch.
One of the most well-received items in last year’s sale was a collection of pens made of wood salvaged from the old choir stalls in the abbey’s late and much-loved chapel.
Sister Gregory Healy makes the pens and other items in the abbey’s woodworking shop.
“We’re still able to offer a limited number of the very popular chapel pens this year, as well as other pens and bowls made from the wood of our land,” said Sister John Mary. “We will also have an array of vases and wooden spoons.”
Mother Jadwiga Makarewicz will contribute three scarves hand-woven from the wool of the abbey’s flock of Shetland sheep. A supply of yarn from the sheep will be available as well.
New this year will be an assortment of hand-poured white beeswax pillar candles decorated with pressed flowers from the abbey gardens. The botanical candles are the work of artist Mariah Hamdi, who is an intern at the monastery this year.
Other poured candles will feature various aspects of the abbey land: fern, meadow, roses, bees, and small candles in the shape of lambs, cows, pinecones, beehives and honey bears.
As always, Mother Lioba Postel, the abbey candlemaker, will produce a supply of tapers to mark the four Sundays in Advent, including a limited number of packaged gift sets that include the candles, a wreath-shaped base and a card with special Advent prayers for each week.
“We’re trying to keep the tradition of lighting Advent candles alive,” said Sister John Mary. “It’s a tradition of German origin. We’re finding increasingly that people don’t know about it.”
Mother Lioba also collects pinecones from the abbey land, threads them with wicks and dips them in sage-infused paraffin to create a practical and fragrant fire-starter.
Mother Simonetta Morfesi and Mother Praxedes Baxter will contribute blank notecards based on their exquisite artwork, and the abbey blacksmith shop will provide its traditional iron hooks and crosses.
Many come to the annual sale in search of foodstuffs made at the abbey.
Mother Elizabeth Evans will provide a variety of breads, all freshly baked in the abbey’s new kitchen, and Mother Noella Marcellino will produce a limited supply of Bethlehem cheese.
There will be abbey-made jams and jellies, pickles, hot mustard, infused vinegars and herbal mixes, along with dark and milk chocolate pecan bars made especially for the abbey by Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury.
“We’ll have our traditional array of other crafts from outside the abbey,” said Sister John Mary, “including alpaca socks, little knitted items for babies and the ever-versatile flour sack towels, with more new images such as the bumble bee and the lobster — to evoke New England.”
There will be wooden ornaments from the Holy Land, felted embroidery ornaments of animals and birds, and a variety of rosaries, crucifixes and religious medals and icons.
The book section will have copies of “The Artist Remembers,” the large-format volume published last year about the late Mother Placid Dempsey and her carvings of the Stations of the Cross.
Also featured will be two autobiographies: “From Fire by Water,” by Sohrad Ahmari, a young Iranian who tells of how he found his way to the Catholic church; and “Apologia Pro Vita Sua” by St. John Henry Newman, who was canonized in October.
Bishop Robert Barron’s “Letter to a Suffering Church” makes a plea for the church in a time of crisis, and Father Michael Casey’s “Balaam’s Donkey” offers a meditative reading for each day of the year.
Christmas Sale hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, November 29, to Sunday, December 1, and each Saturday and Sunday through December 22 at the Jubilee Barn, 249 Flanders Rd.
Proceeds of the Abbey Christmas Sale help fund ongoing living expenses of the community of 37 contemplative Benedictine women dedicated to praising God through prayer and work.
The nuns of the abbey chant the Mass and full Divine office each day, while expressing the traditional Benedictine commitment to manual work and scholarship.
Christmas Sale shoppers are invited to also visit the abbey’s restored 18th-century Neapolitan creche, which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Thanksgiving through January 6, near the Jubilee Barn.
Those seeking additional information may visit www.abbeyofreginalaudis.org.