St Barbara Orthodox Monastery, Santa Paula CA

My visit to St Barbara’s was brief, but providentially a full and rich experience, one which served as a departure point for my visits to two other women’s monasteries in California: Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, and Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

From Alexei Krindatch’s Atlas of American Orthodox Monasteries:

Founded in 1992, St. Barbara Monastery was originally located in Santa Barbara, California. Later the monastery was able to purchase a sizeable property in the mountains near Santa Paula and relocated there in 2005. In this new location the community quickly expanded to sixteen members. However, when county zoning regulations— disallowing trailers, in which a number of sisters were temporarily housed—were enforced, ten sisters were obliged to move to the Holy Assumption Monastery in Calistoga, California. The remaining sisters at St. Barbara Monastery are engaged in the effort to build a proper monastery complex so that the monastery may grow once again. A relic of the monastery’s patron saint, the Great Martyr Barbara, taken from the principal relics, which lie in Kiev (Ukraine), is in the monastery’s chapel, as are relics of St. Anne, the mother of the Theotokos [and many others].

This small selection of photographs shows  the new chapel and views of the grounds and life of the nuns, who offer warm and generous hospitality, and who are known for their fragrant sprays, lip balm and other products made from the abundant lavender which they grow and cultivate there.

Visit the monastery website to learn more, sign up for their regular newsletter, schedule a pilgrimage, and to shop their wide assortment of gifts and books.