28 Benedictine Monks Facts: Facts About Their Religious Lives | Kidadl


28 Benedictine Monks Facts: Facts About Their Religious Lives

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Benedictine monasteries are spread across the entirety of Europe.

These monasteries act as a separate world for the monks and nuns who practice the religious orders of St. Benedict. A benedictine monk is a member of the Order of St. Benedictine(OSB) and follows instructions known as the great rules of St. Benedict.

The followers of these rules spend their lives within monasteries. These monks must follow certain predefined rules and regulations. There are separate rules for worship, teachings, conducting daily chores, and maintaining a particular lifestyle. They even have a prespecified meal quantity and bedtime. There are even rules on what kind of clothes they can wear! Today, the number of monks stands close to 20,000. In America, there are over 100 monasteries. There are four such monastic orders of monks.

There are a lot of amazing facts that separate these monasteries from others. Want to know more? Keep reading!

Who are Benedictine monks?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about the monks staying in these monasteries. As described earlier, Benedictine monks are people of the Catholic religion. They started following rules established by St. Benedict(480-547 AD).

  • Saint Benedict, also known as the Benedict of Nursia, was a Christian saint who spread the essence of his religious beliefs and learnings throughout Europe. As time passed on, he came to be recognized for his wisdom and became popular.
  • He made some rules which needed to be followed by people, especially monks, to walk his path of enlightenment.
  • The people who wished to become his students became a part of his monastic community and started living a monastic life.
  • The male devotees are called monks, and female devotees are called nuns. The origin of the word monk can be traced to Greek, where it has a solitary meaning. Bendictine monks are addressed as Reverend or Sir.
  • These monks spend their entire life in the Benedictine abbeys.
  • The life of a monk is very hard to lead. Many people hoping to join the order have to make sacrifices in their social life, cultural life, daily routines, and so on.
  • One thing that sets them apart from mainstream society is their dedication toward religious prayers, helping others, selfless behavior, and the voluntary decision to live in isolation, away from societal custom and tradition.
  • The purpose of the life of a Benedictine monk is to explain the benevolence of God in all events.

History Of Benedictine monks

The history of these monks dates back to the early medieval time around 516 AD when St. Benedict, a spiritual descendant of ancient monastics in Italy and Gaul, wrote the rules of his abbey. These rules were known as the 'Benedictine rules'.

  • By the seventh century, these rules had also been applied to women whose patroness was St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict.
  • St. Benedict founded many monasteries in Europe and people who wanted to practice asceticism throughout their life, started considering him as their abbot.
  • The rules Saint Benedict wrote constitute 73 chapters. These chapters consisted of spiritual and administrative wisdom. These chapters also emphasized how to lead a Benedictine life, and how to run and maintain a Benedictine abbey.
  • The rules also consisted of a prescribed decorum that is known as the Benedictine order, etiquette on how to live in the abbey.
  • During the ninth century, during King Charlemagne's rule, Saint Benedict's rules had spread to most parts of northern and western Europe.
  • Some of the abbeys were fashioned after Romanesque architecture. Many monasteries became the center of education, scholarship, and culture.
  • The most famous Benedictine monastery was the Burgundian Abbey of Cluny, the foundation of which was laid by William I of Aquitaine in 910 AD.
  • In 1424, the foundation of a new form of the Benedictine institution was laid by Santa Giustina of Padua. It revitalized these monasteries and it came to be known as the Congregation. By the 12th century, their prominence was in decline.
  • A few fundamental changes were made to expand the law. New laws were created. For example, superiors were elected only for a fixed period of three years and monks took vows directly from the Congregation rather to the individual abbeys.
St. Benedict founded many monasteries in Europe, which are now open to tourists.

Beliefs Of Benedictine Monks

Monks believe in their rules, religious order, and silence. The beliefs listed below are strictly followed by the monks.

  • Monks have to remain silent, most of the time. In times of need, they must talk quietly and softly.
  • In the Benedictine monastery, they need to do all their daily chores such as cooking, washing, farming, and looking after sick people.
  • The monks have to devote a significant portion of their time to reading and writing. It is also a part of their daily chores.
  • They would treat themselves as poor and humble men who do not fear taking up odd chores.
  • They have to dedicate themselves to liturgical prayer at all times.
  • Monks do not own anything. Everything is owned by the monastery, including clothes. Most monks shave the middle of their heads and leave the edges. It cannot be said for sure if Benedictine monks also follow the same rules.

Vows And Customs Followed By Benedictine Monks

There are certain types of vows and customs that are followed by the monks of the monastic community. These vows define the lives of monks and nuns.

  • The first and the most important vow is the promise of stability. This shows the commitment of a monk towards their monastery.
  • Another vow is to maintain the lifestyle of poverty and follow the Gospel as per St. Benedict's rules.
  • One vow is to work under the guidance of the abbot, the father of the monastic community. It underlines the value of obedience.
  • They vow only to have a midday meal that includes two cooked dishes, some fruits, and vegetables. Also, they vow to fast every Wednesday and Friday.
  • They have to go to the bed at eight in the evening. They must wake up to attend midnight Lauds at three in the morning and Prime Lauds at six in the morning.
Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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