Alluring Abbey

It is named for its physical beauty, and famed for its spiritual duty, a graceful Southern jewel made more radiant from the North. Reborn from the pages of Life, focused heavenward through the eyes of a saint, a place whose soil and water beckon with the edible and the the incredible, it is more Des Moines than the city in Iowa, and less a Moncks Corner than the town in South Carolina. Mepkin was created in the 17th century as a corn and wheat plantation along the Cooper River, and named for the Cusabo Indian word meaning “serene and lovely”, but its grand oaks and dazzling banks of azaleas would eventually leave the crops in the dust. Mepkin was purchased in 1936 with wealth made from Life magazine by publisher Henry Luce, whose wife Clare Booth Luce had been inspired by Southern poet Sidney Lanier to come South and find a place relaxing to the soul. She commissioned New York landscape architect Loutrell Briggs to create a dazzling floral display along the bluffs of the Cooper called Mepkin Garden, and after converting to Catholicism, she donated part of it to Trappist Monks in 1949 for the purpose of an abbey.

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