Personalized Wooden Urns Custom-made by the Monastery of New Melleray Abbey

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In 1849, Trappist monks from Ireland set out on a journey to America’s heartland and embraced the rolling prairie of Iowa where they founded and built our monastery, New Melleray Abbey.

Today, Trappist monks and their hired layworkers bring old world craftsmanship and a sense of sanctity to fine wooden urns, available to families all over the country in their time of need.

Crafted With Meaning

In the cool silence of the morning, the darkness slowly gives way to the soft light of the morning sun, casting its warmth onto the stone walls and floors. The clang of the bell tower reverberates throughout the grounds, the organ sings its praises as we lift our voices to God, and our prayer life flows into our work life.

A Labor of Love

Working intimately with the wood, crafting dignified vessels for each unique person who will be buried in them, we and our staff feel that making urns is a natural extension of our sacred work. As Trappist monks, we are called to live by the work of our own hands—rather than living on donations—so we feel especially blessed that our craft enables us to serve others through what we believe is a corporal work of mercy.

Honoring Life in Death

We've found that many people seem to connect with the simple and honest way we deal with death and burial. Harvesting some trees from our own woodland and using woods from other regional forests, we make urns for families in their time of need. This work reflects our Trappist beliefs and practices, which include an abiding awareness of death as a sacred, accepted part of life. It is a privilege to be able to prayerfully spend our time crafting something so pure into something that will honor an individual's unique life on earth. We are also honored to have committed laypeople who help us in our sacred work.

Two acorns on an oak twig

In memory of each person that is laid to rest in a Trappist Urn, a tree is planted in our award-winning, sustainable forest. This living memorial is our way to honor your loved one and give back to the earth.

Works of Art Conceived in Prayer

Our workshop at New Melleray Abbey includes special quiet areas so our monk craftsmen can work with minimal distraction in a prayerful frame of mind. We work at a relaxed pace, paying close attention to detail. Each urn is made to highlight the natural grain, texture, and color of the wood so no two look exactly the same. We and our hired lay-artisans employ techniques perfected through generations, producing urns of unique quality worthy of a unique life.

Experience New Melleray Abbey and the work of Trappist Caskets firsthand in the video at the top of the page, or call for a free catalog.

A Unique Vessel Worthy of a Unique Life

From its small beginnings as a seed taking root in the soft, moist earth to its grandeur and strength as a grown tree weathering the seasons year after year, each piece of wood that we bring to our workshop tells a different story. As we work with this special part of nature throughout our process of creation, we are mindful of the story it will continue to tell as a memorial to an individual’s unique life on earth.

Personalized, Custom Engraving

Custom engraving adds a touch of warmth, character, and personality to each urn. Many people who buy a Trappist Urn choose to personalize it with a loved one’s name and significant dates. We can also engrave an urn with a religious symbol or image, a prayer, special blessing, poem, or quotation in order to further commemorate the individuality of the deceased. An urn can even be engraved with your loved one’s image.

A white lily blossom

Funeral homes are required by law to accept third-party urns. We can work directly with your funeral director to ensure smooth and timely delivery for your loved one’s funeral service or burial.

Blessed by a Trappist Monk

All urns are constructed in the prayerful environment of New Melleray Abbey. The urns are blessed by our monks and the name of the deceased is inscribed in our Memorial Book. We then pray for each person buried in a Trappist Urn at a special mass in our church. Those who are mourning the loss of a loved one often tell us this blessing is a source of comfort and consolation.

Call us at 888-433-6934 to discuss how your loved one can be memorialized through your unique customization wishes and receive a free keepsake cross with your urn purchase.

A Reverence for Wood

Trappist monks have tenderly worked the earth for centuries, and in it we have beheld the beauty and majesty of God’s creation. The Trappist philosophy calls for us to labor quietly with our hands in support of our life of simplicity.

We get to know the personality of each species of tree, the smell of sawdust in the air, and the feel of the wood as its coarseness gently gives way to the work of our hands, becoming smooth and strong.

Handcrafted From Natural Materials

We work with several different types of wood including walnut, oak, and cherry. The wood comes partly from our own award-winning forest. Because of the growth of our business, we also purchase lumber from regional sawmills. Crafted by the hands of monk and lay-artisans in our shop at the monastery of New Melleray Abbey, our urns have a simple design that emphasizes the natural beauty of the wood.

A wood plane with wood shavings

As Cistercians, we follow the ancient monastic Rule of St. Benedict. Our life is one of contemplative prayer, community liturgy, and manual labor.

Environmental Stewardship

Here at New Melleray Abbey, Trappist monks and our hired laypeople work hard to be good and faithful stewards of God’s creation. To us, our woodland is not just a source of lumber but a diverse eco-system that we must maintain as such. Our forest management plan determines which trees we selectively harvest, with the goal of long-term conservation guiding every decision.

To ensure our forest continues to grow in a harmonious balance, we plant far more trees than we’ll ever harvest. Years ago, some of the monks in our community planted trees that we now use to make urns. While striving to “go green” and become “eco-friendly,” has just recently become an important consideration for many people and companies, our commitment to sustainability has always been guided by a spiritual mandate to practice responsible stewardship.

Call to learn more about how we make our urns at 888-433-6934, or download a free catalog.

We at New Melleray Abbey feel very blessed to be able to so humbly provide these urns, made with the work of our hands and with prayer in our hearts, to bring some small measure of comfort and solace to families in their times of need.

Available Single Urns

Simple Cherry Urn Enlarge photo Single Walnut or Stained Oak Urn Enlarge photo Premium Single Cherry Urn Enlarge photo
Simple Cherry Urn Single Walnut or Stained Oak Urn Premium Single Cherry Urn
$225 $285 $395
5.5″L × 7.5″W
× 9.5″H
11.75″W × 7.25″W
× 8.25″H
10″L × 8″W
× 9.5″H

Shipping for a single urn within the U.S.

$80 FedEx Overnight   |   $35 FedEx Ground

Immediate delivery available 1-888-493-8586

A Trappist Urn has never been late for a funeral service or burial.

Just call us now at 888-493-8586 or download a free catalog below.

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View our catalog now (or call for catalog)