Building Coffins Boosts Monks' Coffers

When Farming Failed, a Monastery Turned to Casket-Making

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Listen: Listen to the monks chant during Compline service.

Brother Felix Leja  at the Melleray Abbey.

Brother Felix Leja at work on a casket. The New Melleray Abbey business is on target to grow 125 percent this year. Allison Aubrey, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Allison Aubrey, NPR

Not too many businesses are expanding by triple digits these days. But deep in rural Iowa, the Trappist Monks have a business that's growing like gangbusters.

The New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque launched a casket-making business five years ago after their farming operation went under. Now, in between their seven-daily prayer vigils, the monks can be found in the wood-shop sanding and sawing. NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.

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