In October 1913, Román Andres Rios, a 22 year old Spanish monk, arrived in New Norcia from Spain via Italy. He stayed for only eleven years but, by the time he left, he had become the monastery’s Prior and, for a couple of years, was a Professor of Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Manly, in New South Wales.
Sent as New Norcia’s delegate to the 1925 Spanish Provincial Chapter, Rios found himself appointed Prior of El Pueyo in Spain where he stayed until his term expired in 1936. He then went to the monastery of Ramsgate in England, becoming Abbot Visitor of the English Province of the Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observation in 1948. He died in Ramsgate in 1955.
While at New Norcia, he wrote a history of the monastery which, until now, has existed only as a typescript. It is an important work, for it follows on earlier historical works by Bishop Salvado, Théophile Bérengier and James Flood and brings the historical narrative through the reign of Abbot Torres (1901 – 1914) into Abbot Catalan’s time.
In 1943, Rios’ typescript was improved in respect to English expression by a monk of the monastery, Fr William. This edition incorporates Fr William’s improvements and expands significantly on the footnotes, bibliographical references and classical and biblical allusions.
It also includes a biography of Fr Román, written by Abbot Adrian Taylor of Ramsgate following Fr Rios’ death, and is reproduced here with their permission.