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Monastery of Christ in the Desert
Monastery information
Order Benedictine
Established 1964
Mother house Mount Savior Monastery
(Pine City, New York, United States)
Diocese Archdiocese of Santa Fe
Founder(s) Aelred Wall, O.S.B.
Important associated figures Thomas Merton
Architect George Nakashima
Location Abiquiu, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States
Coordinates 36°22′40.80″N 106°40′49.80″W / 36.3780000°N 106.6805000°W / 36.3780000; -106.6805000Coordinates: 36°22′40.80″N 106°40′49.80″W / 36.3780000°N 106.6805000°W / 36.3780000; -106.6805000

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert is a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery belonging to the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation of Benedictine monasteries.

The monastery is in Abiquiu, New Mexico, surrounded by miles of undisturbed wilderness amidst the Chama River Canyon Wilderness area 75 miles north of Santa Fe. It is accessible by Forest Road 151, a 13-mile dirt road off of US route 84.

The monastery was founded in 1964 by Aelred Wall, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Savior Monastery in Pine City, New York.

The original monastery was designed by George Nakashima. The chapel was praised by Thomas Merton as the most perfect monastic chapel he had ever visited.

Christ in the Desert follows the Benedictine life without an external apostolate. It has a guesthouse in which men and women can stay and join the monks in the chapel to share in the monastic Divine Office and in the Mass.

In addition to maintaining the guesthouse, the monks manage a gift shop of books and religious items, which is accessible online and by mail order. The monks also work in agriculture, crafts, computer work and maintenance of the grounds and facilities.

Christ in the Desert has three dependent monasteries. Two are in Mexico (Nuestra Senora de la Soledad and Monasterio Benedictino De Santa María y Todos Los Santos) and the other is in Kerens, Texas (Benedictine Monastery of Thien Tam). These monasteries also observe the Benedictine life with no apostolate other than a guesthouse.

The monastery maintains one of the largest private solar power systems in the US, which provides its only source of electricity.

The monastery comprises men from many nations. English is the common language of the house.

TLC documentary

In 2006 the monastery was the setting for a TLC documentary program entitled The Monastery. The documentary was produced by Tiger Aspect of the UK for the TLC cable network in the US.

The series followed the experiences of five laymen who lived in the monastery and observed the monastic way of life for forty days. The series was filmed in early 2006 and was originally broadcast in five episodes in the US on the TLC network in Oct-Nov 2006.

Internet pioneers

In 1995 the monastery published a website,, that became one of the world's most visited websites in the years 1995-1997. The monastery and their web scriptorium was covered in feature stories distributed via the Associated Press wire (in 1995) and The New York Times wire (in 1996). Print coverage included page one of The New York Times Sunday edition, a full color double page spread in USA Today, and the lead in a cover story in Time. Television feature stories ran on CNN International, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC World News Tonight and Brazil's Fantástico.

The monastery's web scriptorium led to the foundation of an independent research project called NextScribe. NextScribe conducts research in Computer Supported Spiritual Development (CSSD) with a particular emphasis on remaking lay spiritual community according to the wisdom of the tradition of St. Benedict.


The Monastery of Christ in the Desert has operated a small brewery, Abbey Brewing Company, since 2005. As of 2012 it is the only monastery-run brewery in the United States. The brewery produces three beers: Monks' Ale, Monks' Wit, and Monks' Tripel. The beers are currently brewed by Abbey Brewing using facilities at Sierra Blanca Brewing Company in Moriarty, with an experimental brewery located at the monastery. Abbey Brewing Company currently has distribution in eight states, with plans for gradual expansion in the future.

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