The Illuminated Web

Perhaps some of the more unlikely inhabitants of the Internet (human inhabitants, at least) are the monks at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, in New Mexico.

Monks have been known for their work with books for centuries; copying and illuminating manuscripts, and creating new and beautiful works. But this group have taken their creative talents one stage further by creating pages on the World Wide Web.

It may seem an unlikely occupation for a group who have neither phone nor electricity service (their monastery is located in a canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest), but solar power and cellular phones enable the monks to link up with the outside world. They began by computerising library card catalogues, and joined the Web in June [1995].

Their pages contain information about St. Benedict and his order (of which they are a part), along with pointers to more information about the monastic lifestyle and monastic spirituality, the history of scriptoria, and to a manuscript library which preserves some earlier works by the monks' brethren.

They note that "we don't have any parchment on hand (well, maybe a little), and even paper is used sparingly", preferring to create their books on the Web.

The graphics on their pages are indeed very lovely - but also rather large!