Anti-Gluttony door
5:26:56 2022-11-14 81

NOT a monastery’s ’Anti-Gluttony door’

The Alcobaça Monastery has a rather narrow door in its former dining hall, according to social media posts this is the “anti gluttony door”.
Monks who had to fetch their own food from the kitchen could only fit through the door if they weren’t eating too much as the passage is only 32cm (roughly 1 foot) wide.
If they couldn’t get through, they wouldn’t get any food.
To prove the claim the story is often accompanied with a picture of a gentleman with a bit of a belly who seems to be unable to get though the door.

The narrow door at the Monastery in Alcobaça is in reality 50 centimetres (1.6 ft) wide but was meant to pass plates from the kitchen to the refectory.
In a way it was just an early version of the serving hatch.

In 2008 a photo of the door was uploaded to wikipedia commons with the description; “ Mosteiro de Alcobaça, Refectory, door of unknown usage, said being used for monk´s weight-control”.

Portuguese Wikipedia used the picture for the page on the monastery as “The legendary narrow door of the cafeteria, which was intended to deliver meals to the poor.”.

In 2014 a user by the name Daniel Villafruela uploaded the picture of the man unable to fit through the door with the caption ‘I fear to have severely violated the Rule of frugality’.

But the myth may have been older and was perhaps already being told by tour-guides long before this time.
Many myths are born thanks to a guide who decided to be a bit creative with the truth or who forgot to mention that the story he keeps telling the tourists was nothing more than a fable.

Monks have been made fun of and accused of living the good life for centuries, even in medieval times they were a popular target for mocking and there are countless stories of fat monks who drank, ate and fornicated too much.

And although this undoubtedly happened in some cases, the men at the Alcobaça monastery were Cistercian monks and thus had a strict, generally healthy diet.

Even if one of the monks got a bit too rotund, there surely would be easier ways to make him eat a bit less than to have an architect plan a special door just for these rare occasions.
Besides if a monk is peckish he’ll find a way, especially as there’s another door to the kitchen just left of it that is so wide it would fit several monks at once.

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