Room 1: A sense of belonging: Downside’s Liber Graduum and Fasti books

There are two items in Downside’s collections that together form a kind of ‘Who’s Who’ of the monastic community and are therefore amongst its most prized records. Becoming a monk involves a formal admission procedure (known as profession) whereby the individual takes a vow to belong to a specific monastic community and to observe stability of place (Latin: stabilitas loci). The first item at Downside recording this fundamental sense of belonging is a book known as the Liber Graduum (literally: ‘Book of Steps’), which contains a list of all the professions taken by the community’s members from 1609 (when its home was in Douai, Flanders) right up to the present day. The second item comprises the Fasti books, which preserve another continuous record, this time kept since 1793, that provides a detailed account of the individuals’ monastic lives and their respective achievements to be presented at the end of life.

Selected by Simon Johnson, Director of Heritage, Downside Abbey.

Shown here are:
- the Liber Graduum’s entry for the solemn profession of Dom Christopher Butler, later abbot of Downside;
- the Liber Graduum’s entry for the simple profession of Dom Gregory Murray;
- the entry from the Fasti books for Dom John Stutter.