Bethlehem Abbey's Cheese Nun
New England is home to some of the finest creameries and cheesemakers in the US, and in Connecticut, one of those cheesemakers is Sister Noella Marcellina of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem. Sister Noella earned a PhD in microbiology from the University of Connecticut, and spent four years in France collecting samples of Geotrichum candidum bacteria from cheese caves across the country. When she first joined the Abbey in the 1970s, she was assigned to work in the kitchen, but when the abbey bought its first cow shortly afterward, she found her calling as a cheesemaker.
“As Benedictines we have kept our land,” said Sister Noella. “Someone has said about Benedictines that we were the first scholars to get our hands dirty. That is a big part of our life—and not just because we are trying to feed ourselves and our guests and to be sustainable. To touch a cow or the earth grounds you. We do have a lot of land, but not just to cling to for ourselves. We are trying to hang on to something in a world that is rapidly changing. Connecticut is losing more farmland than any other state and, as a monastic community holding land, this is something we can do.”