The Benedictine order

folyoso1Within three centuries the Rule of Saint Benedict had become the only spiritual guideline for western monastery life as it was decreed at the 817 Synod of Aachen. But for a long time the Benedictine did not strive to create a centralised organisation. In the official papal scripts of the 13th century, the phrase "Saint Benedict's Order” occurs often, this, however, does not signify a uniform order, but simply it refers to those monasteries which lived according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The meaning of "ordo" is thus not ’organisation’ but ’ordo vivendi’, that is way of life.
The label "Benedictine" ("Benedictinus") appears only as late as the 17th century, but still not with a specific "order" ("ordo") meaning.


At the end of the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII formed the Benedictine Confederation which holds together Benedictine Congregations (monastery-groups) but not all of them. Though the papal decree sets up the International House of Studies of the Benedictine in Rome, called the Saint Anselm Collegium and it appoints the "abbas primas" (Abbot Primate), it still does not establish a uniform order in modern terms. Hence we could simply say that there existed several monastic communities inspired by Benedictine ideas in the Middle Ages, and from the 15th century on these independent monasteries joined together to form congregations: still, all of them remained individual ’Benedictine Orders’.


Though the Benedictine tradition approves of organisation, this organisation however is born rather from the multifarious balance experienced in the freedom of the Soul than from any strict organisational centralism.