Monasterio Cisterciense de Ferreria
The main feature of Panton is a monastery called the Monasterio Cisterciense de Ferreria. This monastery is only a short walk from the town center and it offers an unusual experience for those who are able to speak some Spanish.
The monastery is a medium sized building with an attached church and cloisters and has a shield on one of its facades that belongs to the council of Lemos. The monastery was originally of the Cistercian order.
Today the monastery is still occupied by 19 nuns who have a predominantly silent order, but who nonetheless speak to visitors.
A tour of Panton monastery
You enter the monastery grounds through an arched gateway in its high surrounding wall and walk through the main entrance of the convent. Within this building there is a foyer with a bell and intercom which you are required to ring. After a short pause you get a response, following which one of the nuns will come out and, although remaining in a separate room to you at all times, happily tell you about the monastery's history and the life of the order (all in Spanish).
Within the foyer area you can also see and photograph the main convent cloisters, but they are only visible through glass (they are still in use).
Once in the care of the nun you are taken, or rather directed to, the adjoining church. The presence of the nun continues, but still from another room and behind some ceiling high bars. The church has some detailed ceiling vaulting, unusually in timber, and is certainly of interest to those who like such buildings.
We spoke to the nun at some length and she was highly personable, very jolly and more than happy to disclose details of her lifestyle. At one time there were over 30 inhabitants of this monastery, but today the calling attracts a much smaller number and there have only been three additions to the order over recent years. During our time with the nun we asked her about her lifestyle and the requirements of the order and she willingly volunteered the following.
A day in the life of a nun
This is a summary of what one of the nuns told us comprised her daily life and activities.
A typical day in the life of a nun at the Monasterio Cisterciense de Ferreria starts at 5.00am and the nuns are in church and praying by 5.20am. This lasts for 45 minutes. The nuns then take a 30 minute break before continuing prayer until 8.30am when they pause to have breakfast. Prayers then continue through until 11.00am, followed by chores to 1.00pm. After this time the nuns perform other duties, one of which is making socks for a local factory, as well as having some time for personal and recreation activities. Dinner is served at 7.00pm and is then followed by further prayers before the nuns retire to bed.
The nun we spoke with was very pleasant and was interested in our Roman Catholic and Church of England (Protestant) marriage. Her only concern was that neither of us placed a restriction on the others beliefs. She seemed very progressive in her thinking and her presence certainly made our visit a little bit different.