The refectory of the Carmel of Lisieux at the time of Thérèse

The meal


At breakfast, soup as was customary in the world at the time.
At noon, we eat fish or eggs (but no eggs in Lent), with vegetables and fruit and especially bread. No meat except for sick sisters. Sweet dairy products, midday or evening. A very small piece of cheese on occasion.
In the evening, only bread, vegetables and fruit. Remember that vegetables and fruits come almost exclusively from the garden.
We do not eat between meals except in cases of exceptional permission.

The service

Each receives her portion from the waitress as a gift from the Lord, without judging what is presented as good or bad.
Each then eats with lowered eyes directed in front of her, without looking at the others.

The reading


The Carmelites take their meals in silence in the refectory. This is a long-established monastic tradition. During the meal, a member of the community reads while standing on a pulpit (visible in this photo). In Lisieux, one book was read continuously, interspersed with the reading, at the evening meal, of the French translation of the Office, and with the reading of circulars received from other Carmels. These circulars are short biographies of deceased sisters. This quiet reading had a powerful impact on the listeners; this can be verified in numerous passages from Thérèse's works.

Kitchen and dishes

It is the lay sisters, in charge of the heavy work, who do the cooking. The other sisters take turns doing the dishes with them.