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National

Louisiana Abbey Finally Able To Sell Its Caskets

LAURA SULLIVAN, HOST:

Thanks for joining us. It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Laura Sullivan.

And now, an update on a story we brought to you last summer on this program. For 120 years, monks in a Benedictine monastery in eastern Louisiana crafted plain pine caskets for their brothers' burials.

MARK COUDRAIN: Flat top. It's got black metal handles on it. And it's a rectangular box.

SULLIVAN: That's Deacon Mark Coudrain from the monastery. The public often admired these caskets - their simplicity, their flawless craftsmanship. A lot of people wanted to buy them. The monks decided to sell them and use the money for charity. That lasted about a minute.

Representatives from the state's funeral home industry said they had to stop. They said only licensed funeral homes can sell caskets. To the monks, this sounded a bit like one group monopolizing sales at the expense of others. Here's how Deacon Coudrain put it at the time.

COUDRAIN: We feel like it was our right to do this. We're not harming anyone. There was no health and safety issue. We're building a box.

SULLIVAN: Well, last week, after a series of legal battles, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the monks. And now, that right is theirs.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.