DVD Release: June 16, 2009


Trappist monks trace their history through 1,700 years of Western civilization. In this documentary, the reality of monastic life, as lived at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, combines with fascinating images of the past to explore how the humility, contemplation, and simple life of monks fits into the modern world.

Dove Review

“Trappist” gives a history of the Trappist Monks and their lives at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina, and viewers of this film may come to understand why so many people visit — and sometimes stay as long as five days to a month. People often envy the peaceful and meditative lives of the monks and, at least momentarily, some people who have had enough of a fast-paced and stressful life come to desire the monastic lifestyle. Thomas Moore, author, speaks of the value of being quiet.

Several of the monks are interviewed, and a retired minister, Cal Myers, who has frequented the Abbey, speaks of the hospitality and the enjoyment of singing, eating, and working with the monks. As Myers states, “There’s a need to come apart.” The documentary explains the reasons why people choose the monastic lifestyle, including those of Aelved Hagen, novice director and the eldest of four children, who remembers telling his family about his desire to be a monk. His mother didn’t understand what he was saying, until his father said, “That means we’ll never see him again.” One monk said his father disowned him when learning of his decision.

The documentary also examines the counter culture of the monks, the Rules of St. Benedict, which they follow, and their three vows: Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Manners. The film also discusses the monks’ poverty, work ethic, and chastity, which, contrary to what some may believe, is sometimes difficult to maintain. “Trappist” also mentions that CDs of the Gregorian Chants of monks have sold millions of copies, and it’s no wonder. The monastic life exudes a peacefulness and tranquility that attracts people to, at the very least, look into it and, in extreme cases, join the movement. We are pleased to award this film our “Faith Friendly” seal for ages 12 and up.

Content Description

Sex: Comments about celibacy. One monk admits he still battles celibacy, though he can't be with a woman.
Language: None
Violence: Paintings and illustrations of battle scenes, stabbings, ax in man's head, men with rifles, a hanging, buildings burning, but the images are not gratuitous.
Drugs: None
Nudity: None
Other: Tensions among the monks' families.


Company: Gateway Films / Vision Video
Director: Robert G. Maier
Producer: John Geaney CSP
Genre: Documentary
Runtime: 56 min.
Industry Rating: Not Rated
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter