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Fruitcake sales support Missouri monks' way of life
AVA, Mo. – Once the bane of pot-luck parties, the fruitcake has been turned into a sought-after treat by Trappist monks secluded in the Missouri Ozarks who some say bake cake that’s nothing short of heavenly.
Between February and mid-December, monks at the Assumption Abbey in Ava, Mo., produce about 25,000 fruitcakes. The monks have gained a national reputation for carefully controlling the production. They marinate the fruit, age the cakes and even package and ship the product from their foothills monastery.
Abbey spokesman Father Cyprian Harrision said the abbey, founded in 1950, is a gathering of contemplative monks.
“We don’t engage in serving our brothers and sisters hands on, but because we don’t serve them, we figure we should support ourselves by our own labor,” Harrison said.
“They got into dredging the sand and gravel out of the creek and making concrete blocks. We got out of that and got into making fruitcakes.
“We say, if you liked our blocks, you’ll love our fruitcake,” he chuckled.
Before each two-pound cake leaves the abbey, it gets a special prayer from the monks aimed at all those who eat the cake.
“A lot of people ask, do you pray over the cakes? That’s how it started, actually, people requested that,” said Brother Francis Flaherty.
At $31 apiece, the cakes allow the monks to live out solitary lives of work and prayer on their compound southeast of Springfield.