Mother Noella Marcellino is a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, where in the Benedictine tradition, the nuns carry on agricultural techniques and crafts that have been handed down through the centuries. Mother Noella began making Bethlehem cheese from the milk of the Abbey’s dairy cows in 1977 according to an ancient technique taught to her by a native of the Auvergne, France.
In 1986 she and three other members of the community began to pursue advanced degrees in Agriculture at the University of Connecticut. She received her doctorate in Microbiology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. With the aid of a Fulbright Scholarship to France in 1994, and a subsequent three year fellowship from the national French laboratory, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), she traveled 30,000 km through traditional cheese-making regions collecting native strains of cheese-ripening fungi to assess their biochemical and genetic diversity. A documentary film about this journey, The Cheese Nun: Sister Noëlla’s Voyage of Discovery, produced by the Paris American Television Company, has been shown in film festivals and aired nationally on PBS Television in 2006.
Mother Noella was honored with the reception of the International Academy of Gastronomy’s Grand Prix de la Science de l’Alimentation in 2005, and the French Food Spirit Award in Scientific Advancement, given in the French Senate, Paris, in 2003.
Currently at the Abbey Mother Noella is a guest mistress in the hospitality department, works in the Liturgy Deanery, teaches Gregorian Chant, and continues her work in the dairy.