Thurs-6th August-bless me Father for I have sinned…

I guess only Catholics will know this phrase that starts a confession but it is what comes to mind as we enter the tiny Chapel at Blaca, a Monastery built into the cliff face in the 1550s. In a remote part of Brac it is reached only by trekking in by foot. The confessional is not at all private and I’d hate to have knelt at this one while my classmates and the Nun knelt in the pews waiting for their turn!

Seven of us wanted to see it so drove to the walking point and with our good walking shoes headed out. It was a clear path worn by centuries of feet, men and Donkeys mostly, but children too as they ran a school from there for a few hundred years. We chatted freely in the early afternoon sun and occasional welcome shade, taking about half an hour to get there with a little up hill and quite a lot of down dale, as the saying goes.

Two priests fleeing the Turks in the mid 16th century hid in the caves there and gradually added onto their space for the next three hundred years. A classroom for the local children, a music room, an observatory and printing works. They never used money but traded goods and harvesting their own grapes for wine, olives for oil and around 250 beehives gave them sought after goods to trade with.

They became famous for their Observatory. Based as it was in a spot so far from civilisation it was unpolluted by city lights and they became well known in the world of astronomy as experts of the night sky. The last priest was buried there in about 1963 and it was then closed. The dynasty was dependant on family as the succession was all one family, brothers of current priests producing boys to follow in their uncles footsteps and once that line finished it ended. Recognised by the Pope it was independent and self sufficient.

The little chapel was beautiful and all of it worth the walk of which I was well aware of for our return. I was about to ask if we could use the toilet when he told us this was this only one in the whole Monastery and it turned out it was a tiny room built at a cliff edge with a wooden seat and a roof over it. Still in use today your leavings washed down the cliff face. Hmm. I decided I could wait and we set off mostly uphill and a little down dale. There was some heavy breathing I can tell you and it was a little challenge for some of us but we had the threat of Rina waiting back home and a deadline to keep to. Holly who was with us told us Manchu Pechu was a bit harder. How much harder? Ummm eight hours a day for four days of similar or worse terrain. Jeepers this must have been a walk in the park for her!

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