Get Thee To A Nunnery

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A slice of heaven: the Virgin Mary shrine at Our Lady of Grace.

“To a nunnery, go, and go quickly too.”

The words are William Shakespeare’s and the play is Hamlet. But Bernie Triche took them literally when he got three auction pieces inscribed in Latin that needed translation.

Entrusted by a 90-year-old woman with the 19th century framed pieces, Triche wondered where to find a Latin translator. His search brought him through the heavy wooden doors of Our Lady of Grace, a tiny Dominican monastery in North Guilford, CT.

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Doll depicting a nun in the Our Lady of Grace gift shop. The nuns there wear white habits though.

“I was hoping one of the nuns could take a look at these and tell me what they say,” Triche said as he carted the pieces inside the basement gift shop. “When I was a boy, I remember Catholic  masses were said in Latin. I’m hoping someone here can help me.

Triche hit the proverbial jackpot, receiving typewritten translations a few weeks later and putting the pieces up for bid at his auction house, Lotus International Auctions LLC.  He made a small donation to the monastery to thank the sisters for their time and trouble.

Triche could have Googled the verses to translate them, but he did it the old-fashioned way. That’s becoming a rarity these days. Everyone’s in a hurry, demanding answers in split seconds. We get mad or concerned when someone doesn’t instantly return a text. We fret when medical test results don’t come within a day of our blood draw, mammogram or MRI.

I’m one of the worst offenders, so I get it. But I think we all need to chill out. Instead of the information age, I’m beginning to think it should be called age of impatience. We’ve all lost our ability to wait.

Back when I wrote for newspapers (sound the violins), the average story was 10-12 inches. Today, the average attention span is eight seconds, and people prefer pictures to words. “It’s a visual society,” my crazy ex-blogger boss told me. “And I don’t like what you wrote. It’s too newspapery. People don’t want to read this.”

Yes, she did a number on my ego and confidence until a friend advised that getting fired was a good lesson for my kids. “Now you can tell them you were fired and it wasn’t the end of world,” he said.

Our need for speed is everywhere. A friend confided that when she launches into a story, her husband begs, “Can you just give me the Twitter version?” My mother was chastised by a physician’s assistant when calling her (former) gastroenterologist: “Hurry up. I have a waiting room full of sick people in here.”

It was upsetting for my mom, who was married to a cardiologist for 53 years, to be treated so poorly. More than anything, she lamented that my father would never treat a patient so brusquely.

A surgeon and medical school professor I know complained that some medical students use Google instead of reading and research. That’s a terrifying thought. I want a surgeon (well, any physician) who didn’t cut corners. I bet everyone else does too.

I guess this is why I’m heartened there are still guys around like Triche. A New Orleans native who moved to Connecticut 25 years ago, he still has his distinctive Louisiana drawl. It’s the kind of accent that transports you to the bayou and convinces you to finally book a flight to the Big Easy.


Dominican nuns were happy to translate these Latin verses for Guilford, CT.-based auctioneer Bernie Triche.

Though the Dominican sisters spend most of their time in prayer, they often get requests from the public and do their best to accommodate them. As one of a posse of volunteers who run the shop, I run interference for them most Thursday mornings.

Seated behind an old wooden desk, I’m off the grid for two hours. There’s no internet, cell phone or computer service at the enclosure. Being there is like stepping back in time:  there’s a lazy Susan called the “turn” where we put notes to the nuns. We use an adding machine, handwritten receipts, and a metal cash box. We don’t take credit cards, to the consternation of many customers who dash out to find the nearest ATM.

One of the things visitors comment on most is the serenity of the setting, which includes rolling farmland, beautiful hiking trails and rooms for personal retreats. The birds’ calls are sharper and the wind rustling through the trees is louder there. One of my favorite spots is an outdoor shrine to the Virgin Mary and life-size stations of the cross near a pond.

People who come through the door are often searching for a miracle or peace of mind.  Faced with the reality that they’re utterly out of control in a situation, they come to pray and maybe buy a trinket or two. One of my favorites  is a small Jerusalem stone that reads: “Relax, God is in control.”

What I enjoy most about being there is the sense of peace and meeting people I wouldn’t encounter under different circumstances. Some people assume everyone, including yours truly, is a nun, which will amuse those who know me. I could never do their work, not even for an hour, but I  admire them tremendously. I’m happy they’re there for me, and anyone else who needs them too.

To visit Triche’s website, click

To visit the monastery’s website, click










6 thoughts on “Get Thee To A Nunnery

  1. Of course, Hamlet was dismissing his one time lover, Ophelia, when he suggested she go to a nunnery. He wasn’t being very nice, though he can be forgiven, conflicted soul that he was. Mr. Triche went for a much better reason. I am having trouble picturing you in a habit, but you are a saintly person in my view.


  2. Hello I am the 90 lady who throughly enjoyed your comments and sense of humor. I am happy that
    Bernie Triche brought in my Latin Chants in for your perusal. it was very nice of Bernie to take the time o do so,
    I would be interested in knowing what they mean in English and if they have any value
    Sincerely Elizabeth Van Wazer

    Liked by 1 person

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