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Saint Joseph Abbey is delighted to announce the very beginnings of a new product that we've provisionally named "Monk Soap" in anticipation of a better name (see the contest below). Our sacristan, Br. Andrew, has begun to produce artisanal soap that he plans to sell in the gift shop. About two months ago, he set up a small factory in the craft room of the abbey with crock pots and soap molds and shelves. Right now, he is perfecting his recipe, using his brother monks as "consumer testers." So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

"Saint Benedict says that when monks work with their hands, as our fathers and the apostles did, then they are really monks," he quotes. "We're going to start off small, making a batch of 25 bars every day, and see where it goes. If people respond and the soap sells, I'll make more."

Does he think it will sell well? "When I managed the gift shop, our customers always asked me if we had something handcrafted by monks. I think that people who visit us want to take home a little piece of the abbey, something that a monk made, something to remind them of their time here. I think this is a nice - and practical - souvenir for them."

When is he going to put it on the market? "Well, the only hold up right now is packaging, really. We need to name it and then Br. Simon needs to design the labels and get them printed. In the meantime, I'm giving them away to the monks and to our volunteers and friends, just to see how people like it."

Will it wash away your sins? "No," he laughs. "But they say that cleanliness is next to Godliness, so if we can help people get Godly, we're willing to do our part. We'll do whatever it takes to remind people of the presence of God in their lives, whether it's washing their hands or sitting in Church."

Do you have an idea for the name of the soap? If so, fill out the form below for your chance to win a baker's dozen soaps of your choice!

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