There’s still time to take care of some of your Christmas shopping online. Why not try these lovely gifts, handmade by monks and nuns from monasteries and religious communities? These are a few of the Aleteia staff’s favorites:
1. Brandy-dipped fruitcake from the New Camaldolese Monks of Big Sur, California. This cake is unforgettable ($21 for a one-pound cake), as is the New Camaldoli Hermitage itself. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the monks offer Benedictine spiritual retreats in a beautiful setting. Now that would be a good Christmas gift!
2. Fudge from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. Try the “Southern Touch” fudge, with real peach morsels, pecans and a touch of pecan brandy ($12.95 a box).
3. The “Pope’s Soap” from Seignadou Soaps in Summit, New Jersey. The Dominican nuns who make these lovely soaps provided a gift basket to make Pope Francis’ stay in Philadelphia last year “squeaky clean.” Try their “Three Wisemen Tumbler Candle” — scented of frankincense, myrrh, patchouli and sandalwood, but not overpowering!
4. Soap from the Texas nuns at the Monastery of St. Michael the Archangel in San Antonio, Texas. More soap! We just couldn’t choose which we liked best. The Texas Nuns (tune in to their radio show “A Good Habit” on Guadalupe Radio Network on Wednesdays at 2 pm EST) offer their Nonnavita “super natural soap” in a variety of scents. On our personal shopping list: “Ranch Hand,” made with lemon, lavandin (a lavender variety yielding fragrant oil), orange and patchouli with exfoliating ground apricot kernels ($7 a bar).
5. Jams and jellies from Trappist Preserves and the monks at Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. ($24.95 for six jars.) These monks have cornered the market on preserves for a reason. They’re delicious!
6. Caramels from the Trappist nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi in Dubuque, Iowa. And try their “Meltaways,” a favorite among the sisters, made with milk chocolate, hazelnuts and a hint of salt (from $9.95 for a half pound). They also offer original Christmas Card designs.
7. Icons from the Trappist Monks of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Fans of Thomas Merton will appreciate these reproductions of religious icons painted by Br. Lavrans in the 1960s ($20 each).
8. Creamed honey from Redwoods Abbey in northern California. $7 a jar, or trya gift box of three flavors ($18).
9. All-natural beeswax candles from the Monastery of Saint John in Manton, California. Long-lasting, solid beeswax pillars ($42.00 for a set of three), tapers, and candles in the shape of Russian-style carved eggs, bear-shaped honey dispensers and pine cones make for lovely gifts.