Architecture reflects lifestyle. Monks were among the first groups to consciously form their environment in order to further their chosen mode of life. Cistercians were especially gifted in this regard. The simple and unique stained glass displayed throughout our Abbey Church at the Monastery are sure to give visitors an inside look into the nature of the Cistercian lifestyle.
The Abbey Church was first planned by Dom Frederic and was designed to be a complete copy of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. At first, the war effort prevented construction of "non-essential" buildings and execution of Frederic’s plan was halted. Years later when construction on a church finally seemed feasible, the Conyers' community decided on a new approach. A copy of Gethsemani was no longer their vision, replaced by the idea for a structure that would serve as a statement of Catholicism in rural Georgia.
As construction progressed, modifications were made to reflect the character of the community of monks at the Monastery. Concerned that the architect lacked insight into the nature of their life, the community worked to affect changes that would better echo the Cistercian lifestyle. Avoiding intricate gothic detail work, the church became a blend of clean lines clearly expressing the monk’s vision.
Alterations to the church’s design were further determined by the composition of the growing monastic community. Conyers had gifted men who had studied art history, architecture, and sculpture before entering the monastery among its members, and their insights influenced the building process. Thus, the final product was truly the result of the community's work and was a visual expression of its values.
The stained glass work of the Church reflects the intersection of original Cistercian ideals with the modern era, a successful blend of innovative and convention. Each piece is handcrafted by our fellow Monks at the Monastery, showcasing their talent and individual expression.