Two of Santa Clara Carmelite Convent’s historic trees came down Tuesday night amid this week’s unprecedented wind and rain, with one coming down right across Winchester Boulevard. Nobody was injured, and the only damage property damage was to the convent wall.
“We were heading to mass on Ash Wednesday morning,” said Regina Dittman, who lives near the convent, “And we saw a blockade on Winchester near the entrance. But we could walk to the gate and found it locked and a lot of people waiting.”
It turned out that the Mass was supposed to be canceled because the electricity had been out since Monday night.
“It turned out the priest was going to be coming anyway, and their electricity came at 7 o’clock — just in time,” said Dittman.
“The tree came down in the terrific wind that we had yesterday morning,” the convent’s Reverend Mother told The Weekly.
The convent’s gardener saw it first.
“Just before the trees fell, we heard the sirens all around us [in the Old Quad],” she said. “There are many trees down in the neighborhood.”
“These trees don’t have very deep roots,” she continued, “And the drought of the last several years affected them. We have had high winds before, but they didn’t bring the trees down. These winds were rotating.
“When they fall, they disturb the root system,” she continued, “So when one fell inside the wall, it brought down the other one, which fell across the street.
“It’s remarkable that nobody was hurt,” she continued. “We are giving thanks that no one was hurt.”
For more than a hundred years, pink stucco walls and wrought-iron fencing have beckoned visitors to the island of tranquility on the corner of Lincoln and Benton Streets where the Carmelite Monastery of the Infant Jesus is located.
Its nuns lead a cloistered life dedicated to prayer and meditation. The church is open to the public for daily Mass at 7:15 a.m. Mass is held on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and vespers at 4:30 p.m. for vespers. The outside garden and olive orchard are open during the day.
Because Santa Clara crews have been working overtime to repair the extreme damage caused by this week’s storms, no one was available to provide further information about damage or downed historic trees. We will update this story as information becomes available.