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Monday, 26 March 2012

Order, Order: Benedictines

Founder: Saint Benedict

Date: ca. 529

Charism: Monastic/contemplative

History:  The Benedictine Order is very unique among the contemplative orders. It is not, strictly speaking, an order in the same sense as say the Carmelites. Benedictine houses are united under the same Rule and same spiritual family but unlike other orders they do not have a system of centralised authority or a general superior. The Benedictine Order can be broken down into smaller families known as Congregations. Individual houses remain autonomous and are united in spirit rather than in authority.

Benedictine monasticism spread rapidly in the Western Church and although the order had it's share of scandals and failures there was not a widespread corruption and the order remained in constant reform and continued to grow. It is estimated that in the fourteenth century there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries. The Reformation devastated the order, leaving Benedictine monasticism extinct in many countries. The French Revolution further damaged the order and by the beginning of the nineteenth century there were only fifty houses left. Benedictine life has since however seen a huge revival, now numbering almost seven hundred houses. [Info. from Catholic Encyclopaedia, see Recommended]

Notable Saints: 
Saint Benedict 
Saint Scholastica
Blessed Hildegard
Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Catholic Encyclopaedia - the Benedictine Order
Order of Saint Benedict
The Rule of St Benedict Latin English

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