Benedictines carry on a tradition that stems from the origin of the Christian monastic movement in the third century. St. Benedict (ca. 480-ca. 550) was born at Nursia and educated at Rome. About the year 500, the condition of contemporary society led him to withdraw to a cave at nearby Subiaco where a community gradually grew up around him. In 525 he moved with a small band of monks to Monte Cassino where he remained until his death. It was here (ca. 540) that he drew up his plan for the reform of monasticism and composed a rule for his monks, mostly laymen. This rule, which reflected contemporary practice, was for almost two centuries merely one of several from which abbots could choose. Meanwhile, the rule found its way to monasteries in England, Gaul, and elsewhere, becoming the rule of choice for monasteries of Europe from the ninth century onward.
The fifteenth century saw the beginning of a new form of Benedictine life, that is, the congregation, which gave rise to more regular life in their monasteries. All the houses of Italy and Sicily eventually joined the congregation, which with the accession of Monte Cassino in 1504 called itself the Cassinese Congregation. The reform movement that followed spread to the formation of many other confederations.
The bond joining Benedictine monks has been in the main a spiritual rather than an organizational one. The Order of St. Benedict signifies not a centralized institute but a confederation of congregations of monks and nuns following the rule of Benedict. Each monastery is autonomous with no juridical ties to the rest of the confederation.
From the description of Benedettini, 1708-1800. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 145567930
- Monasticism and religious orders
- Venice (Italy) (as recorded)
- Ferrara (Italy) (as recorded)
- Subiaco (Italy) (as recorded)
- Cluny (France) (as recorded)