What Are the Largest Christian Monasteries in California?

Have you ever thought about including monasteries in your travel itinerary? Over the years, monasteries have helped highlight spiritual pride. This visit will also help you overcome multiple spiritual temptations, including ecclesiastical gossip and spiritual guidance abuse. But besides that, it would be best to know which monasteries to visit.

Notably, California boasts some of the homeliest monasteries, assuring you of an easy time during your trip. The following are the largest monasteries that you should include in your itinerary.

1. St Andrews Abbey

If you are in California’s southern part, you will not want to miss this beauty—St. Andrews Abbey Monastery. It is a male Benedictine monastery associated with the Congregation of the Annunciation. Its mean sea level is approximately 3500 feet.

This place is suitable for anyone looking for enhanced peace of mind, thanks to its location. St. Andrews Abbey sits in the heart of the Mojave desert, meaning there is minimal interruption. It is open to everyone, as you do not have to belong to the parish to visit it.

Its expansive coverage allows it to hold many visitors at once. This monastery comes with various ceramics that can readily capture your attention. It is open daily, allowing you to visit and rest whenever you feel.

Notably, you could do various things while at the monastery. This place boasts of a Book & Fine Arts store, which provides you with an opportunity to understand multiple religious histories. You could also consider a worship service under the aspen trees.

St. Andrews Abbey is an excellent place for retreats. Every Saturday, you are free to enjoy a movie while sipping some wine. Your accommodation for the weekend is relatively affordable, as you will spend between $180 and $230 per person sharing.

2. Holy Cross Monastery

The Holy Cross Monastery is an orthodox monastery in Castro Valley, California. This Anglican Benedictine community of men boasts several programs, and it is open to people of all religions. This place is open to the public between Tuesday and Sunday. You can enter at 0700 Hrs and leave by 2000 Hrs, depending on your preferences.

The Holy Cross Monastery provides you with a sacred environment to rest, joining the community for the main meal at 1230 Hrs. Its surrounding allows you to enjoy enhanced solitude, which is ideal for introspection and relaxing.

You will also fall in love with the individual retreats provided at this place. An individual is free to stay over for a night or more, allowing them to relax and connect the body and soul. Its excellent accommodation options assure you of unrivaled comfort. Besides, they come with a library and comfortable seats and beddings. These rooms will cost you $95 per person on a weekday and $110 on a weekend night.

You could also consider group retreats. This option is often much more affordable and fun. The monastery has several spacious meeting rooms, providing space for a relatively large group. The rooms are designed to meet different needs. Its affordability is astounding, allowing you to pay either per day or for half a day.

Holy Cross Monastery offers extended stays to scholars, seekers, writers, and artists. This arrangement allows the individuals ample time to focus on whatever issue they have at hand. The stay could be a shared or private one. Notably, the required donation for this is about $500 per week and $1850 per month.

3. Monastery of The Risen Christ

This monastery is in San Luis Obispo, overlooking the coastal mountains and the scenic Irish Hills. It is next to Hollister Peak, and it sits at an elevation of 600 feet. The Monastery of The Risen Christ spans across over 40 acres, making it one of the regions’ largest. It is surrounded by beautiful valleys and morrows, whose serenity makes it an excellent retreat destination.

This place allows you to participate in various activities. Whether you want to relax by the pool or go hiking, you will be sure of the best experience. It prides itself on multiple trails around it. With this, you can choose when to move around or when to stay indoors.

Its impressive accommodation provides you with the comfort and peace of mind you need. You will have access to every facility you need, and the hosts will always treat you warmly. Further, you can visit the monastery alongside your family. That is because you are sure of getting enough room to accommodate everyone.

Any religious person will readily fall in love with this place. The monks in this place believe in three critical things. One, solitude for prayer and meditation is a priority. This aspect allows you to talk to your God and meditate whenever necessary. They also believe in communal prayer and contemplative outreach. Nothing could be more satisfactory to a believer than this!

4. New Camaldoli Hermitage

This monastery first opened its doors in 1958. It is a rural monastery in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur. Besides being in a remote yet beautiful place, the New Camaldoli Hermitage spans across over 900 acres. It hosts various shops, buildings, cottages, and retreat spots. It is also open to everyone, regardless of their religion.

This place sits at an elevation of approximately 1300 feet. It boasts incredible accommodation options, ensuring that you get to relax. You could choose from the monk cells, private hermitages, guest houses, and the main retreat house. It all depends on your preference.

This monastery provides you with unrivaled solitude. It overlooks a perfect seaside, allowing you to gaze at the beautiful sunsets as you sip your wine.

You will also fall in love with the services provided by the monks in this place. However, these professionals will often maintain a low profile, appearing only when necessary.

It is open to men and women of faith. As long as you have a specific religious inclination, you are free to walk into this monastery. Unfortunately, it does not allow entry for pets and children under the age of 16.

5. Holy Transfiguration Monastery

This monastery sits in the heart of Redwood Valley, which is in Northern California. It has been in operation for over 40 years, and it is home to a reasonably small community of monks. These monks believe in the spirit of selflessness and poverty, meaning that they live in rough and wooden buildings within the place. These buildings come with a dome shape.

The monks in the Holy Transfiguration Monastery observe the Byzantine religious tradition. This tradition is relatively similar to what the Ukrainian Eparchy of St Nicholas of Chicago practices. Typically, the practice is a reflection of what the Roman Catholic uses.

You cannot overlook how hardworking the monks in this place are. They start their day at 5.30 in the morning with a prayer and divine liturgy. From there, they take breakfast and work until noon. They often end their day with compline and vesper.

This beautiful monastery aims to attract visitors for retreats. The monks ensure that visitors remain peaceful at all times by maintaining enhanced silence. These monks do not disrupt individual visitors unless they are required to provide a little help.

Visiting this monastery is relatively affordable. Spending a night here costs about $65, which is less costly for most people. However, you are free to donate more money to help support their other activities.

6. St. Barbara Orthodox Monastery

St Barbara Orthodox Monastery is a place you will barely overlook, thanks to the tranquility and solitude it provides. It is in Santa Paula, California, and it spans over a relatively large piece of land. Undoubtedly, a visit to this place will assure you of a rich experience and value for your money.

This monastery was initially located in Santa Paula when it opened in 1992. However, it had to relocate when it purchased a large piece of land in 2005. Its property sits on the mountains, allowing visitors to enjoy enhanced tranquility and a closeness to nature.

You will readily appreciate the small community of monks in this place. St Barbara orthodox is home to about 16 monks and sisters. Their devotion to religion, hospitality, and humanity is astounding, ensuring that anyone on a retreat gets the peace they deserve.

This place opens at 7 in the morning every day. The hardworking monks here ensure that the place is clean and suitable for visitors. They also say their prayers, including vespers and complines. Their day closes at 10 pm with a liturgy.

7. Holy Assumption Monastery

If you are in Calistoga, this should be your first stop. The Holy Assumption Monastery is part of the Orthodox church, hosting a significantly small community of sisters. It is among the oldest monasteries in the country, as it was established in 1943. It is open to pilgrims as well as visitors from different religious backgrounds.

This place allows you to engage in different activities, depending on your preferences. Whether you want to go sightseeing or reading, this will be the place for you. It comes with a beautiful garden and shops that will strike you instantly. Its shops assure you of a wide selection, from books and snacks to cards, honey, and cookies. If you want to taste their chalice wine, you will not regret it.

It is always vital that you understand their schedule in advance. It ensures that you make logical preparations and itineraries. Their day starts at 5.30 in the morning every weekday and ends at around 10 pm. During this time, they carry out prayers, vespers, and complines.

The incredible accommodation provided by this monastery is worth lauding. It is comfortable and affordable, assuring you of value for your money in the long run.

8. The Orthodox Monastery of St Macarius

Here is yet another big monastery whose service you will appreciate. It is named after St Macarius of Egypt, who was a monk and hermit. This monastery brings lots of products and activities to the table, assuring you of a wide selection for easier choices.

You will readily fall in love with the arts provided by this monastery. Usually, you will find them hung almost everywhere within the premises. These arts are sold at relatively affordable prices, allowing you to take one home. You will choose between handmade products and transferred icons, depending on your preferences and budget.

Its shop assures you of assorted products. For instance, you will get different types of prayer ropes and beads. These beads come in handy in improving your prayer experience in the long run.
Take the time to compare what each option provides before you can decide.

In most cases, they will cost you between $10 and $75, which is relatively affordable for most people. On the other hand, handmade art will cost you between $20 and over $600 per piece.

This monastery strictly observes schedules and services. Visitors are allowed to participate in specific services only, especially during the day. For that reason, each visitor has to go through their website to familiarize themselves with what to expect.

9. Holy Monastery of The Theokotos

You will find this monastery in Dunlop, California. While it is not the most extensive selection, a visit to this place will leave your heart warmed.

It is open 24 hours daily, allowing you to walk in or out at any time. This arrangement helps ensure that the visitors feel at home right from the onset.

It comes with incredible accommodation options, whether you need a cabin or a warm room. You will choose your accommodation based on your preferences and budget.

Its location allows you to sightsee and birdwatch without too much hassle. This action provides you with incredible solitude in the long run. What is more, you are confident of getting different essential services at moderately priced rates at the end of the day.

10. Monastery of St. John

Here is a monastery in Manton, California. Its surging popularity is thanks to the expansive space it boasts. It was founded in 1996, and this place comes with about nine members. Its church’s dimensions are 17*7.65*9 meters. Its massive stone construction makes it one of the unique monasteries in the state.

The monks in this place raise bees, harvesting and selling honey from the hives at a small fee. One other product they make from this activity is beeswax candles. These candles vary in size and shape, and they are used in their church.

Its community allows for retreats, both individual and group. The accommodation offered is comfortable, providing you with the peace and solitude you need. Its expansive fields will enable you to go hiking, which is vital for enhanced relaxation.

Final Remarks

In conclusion, monasteries come in handy in providing you with unrivaled comfort and peace of mind. Most visitors would prefer to visit a relatively large monastery, and you are no exception. The insights provided above will help make a logical decision in the long run.

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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