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The longest lasting of the western Catholic monastic orders, the Benedictine Order traces its origins to the adoption of the monastic life by St. Benedict of Nursia (Norcia) in 529.

Benedict, founder of the monastery of Monte Cassino between Naples and Rome, wrote a "Rule" or plan of life for his monastery that remains an influence on monasticism today, the Rule of St Benedict. His sister, Saint Scholastica, founded the women's order at the monastery.

The motto of the Benedictine Order is: pax, or "peace." Benedict, as leader of the group of men that grew up around him, developed a plan of life that stressed balance and moderation: abstention from some types of meat, regular hours for sleep, prayer, manual labor, and "lectio divina," that is, "sacred reading."

The model for the monastic life under Benedict was the family, with the abbot as father and all the monks as brothers. Each member takes a "vow of stability", promising allegiance to the abbot. Priesthood was initially an unimportant part of monasticism - monks used the services of their local pastor. Because of this, female monasticism with an abbess as mother worked as well as male monasticism. Many Benedictines, both male and female, have been leaders in modern movements to reform the Catholic Church.

See also:

Camaldolese Order
Capuchin Order
Cistercian Order
Franciscan Order
Trappist Order
Autpert Ambrose

Benedictine monks in fiction

Perhaps the most famous Benedictine monk in all fictiondom is Brother Cadfael, a monk created by Edith Pargeter writing under the pen name Ellis Peters.

External links

  • The Order of Saint Benedict

Benedictine is also the name for an herbal liqueur based on brandy, which was first made by the Benedictine monastery of Fécamp in France.

The name "benedictine" is also given to a spread made with cucumbers, that was flavoured with the liqueur. Benedictine is typically used to make cucumber sandwiches, which are then served as hors d'oeuvres.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:27:26
Last updated: 02-11-2005 17:47:38