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BENEDICTINE


443


BENEDICTINE


Benedict -n-as proclaimed Venerable by Pius IX in 18.59 and canonized by Leo XIII S December, 1881. His feast is kept on the 16th of April, the day of his death.

Bieg Vnir. (Paris. 18tl-2S): Biog. Eccles. CompUta (Madrid, ISo/); Uie of Venerable Benedict Joseph Labre, French tr., Bahxard (London, 1785): Life of Oie Venerable Servant of God, Benedict Joseph Labre (Oratorian Series London, ISoO).

Joseph F. Del-^nt. Benedictine Order, The, comprises monks liv- ing imder the Rule of St. Benedict, and commonly known as "black monks". The order will be con- sidered in this article under the following sections: I. History of the Order; II. Lay brothers, Oblates, Confraters, and Xuns; III. Influence and Work of the Order; IV. Present Condition of the Order; V. Benedictines of Special Distinction; VI. Other Foun- dations Originating from, or Based upon, the Order.

I. History of the Order. — The term Order as here appl to the spiritual family of St. Benedict is used in a sense differing somewhat from that in which it is applied to other religious or- ders. In its ordinary meaning the term im- plies one complete religious family, made up of a number of monasteries, all of which are subject to a common superior or "general" who usvi- ally resides either in Home or in the mother-house of the order, if there be one. It may be divitled into Tarious provinces, ac- ■cording to the coun- tries over which it is spread, each provin- cial head being im- mediately subject to "the general, just as the superior of each house is subject to his own provincial. This system of centralized authority has never ■entered into the or- ganization of the Benedictine Order. There is no general -or common superior Xm. Ahbh- .

over the whole order

other than the pope himself, and the order consists, so to speak, of what are practically a number of or- ders, called "congregations", each of which is autonomous; all are united, not under the obedi- ence to one general superior, bvit only by the spiritual bond of allegiance to the same Rule, which may be modified according to the circumstances of each particular house or congregation. It is in this latter sense that the term Order is applied in this article to all monasteries professing to observe St. Benedict's Rule.

Beginnings of the Order. — St. Benedict did not, strictly speaking, found an order; we have no evi- dence that he ever contemplated the spread of his Rule to any monasteries besides those which he had hiuLself established. Subiaco was his original founda- tion and the cradle of the institute. From St. Gregory we learn that twelve other monasteries in the vi-


cmity of Subiaco also owed their origin to him, and that when he was obliged to leave that neighbourhood he founded the celebrated Abbey of Monte Cassino, wliich eventually became the centre whence his Rule and institute spread. These fourteen are the only monasteries of which there is any reliable evidence of ha\-ing been founded during St. Benedict's lifetime. The tradition of St. Placid's mission to Sicily in 534,' which first gained general credence in the eleventh centurj', though accepted as genuine by such writers as MabiUon and Ruinart, is now generally admitted to be mere romance. Ven.- little more can be said in favour of the supposed introduction of the Bene- dictine Rule into Gaul by St. Maurus in 543, though it also has been strenuously upheld by many re- sponsible writers. At any rate, evidences for it are so extremely doubtful that it cannot be seriously re- garded as historical. There is reason for believing that it was the third Abbot of Monte Cas- sino who began to spread a knowledge of the Rule beyond the circle of St. Benedict's own foundations. It i.s at least certain that when Monte Cassino was sacked by the Lom- bards about the year 580, the monks fled to Rome, where they were housed by Pope Pelagius II in a mon- astery adjoining the Lateran Basilica. There, in the verj- centre of the ecclesi- astical world, they remained for upwards of a hundred and forty years, and it seems highly probable that this residence in so prominent a position constituted an impor- tant factor in the diffusion of a knowl- edge o f Benedictine monasticism. It is generally agreed also that when Gregory the Great embraced the monastic state and converted his family palace on the Ca?han Hill into a monastery dedicated IK .-^i iiuco to St. Andrew the

Apostle, it was the Benedictine form of monachisra that he adopted there.

It was from the monastery of St. Andrew in Rome that St. Augustine, the prior, and his forty com- panions set forth in 595 on their mission for the evangelization of England, and with them St. Bene- dict's idea of the monastic Hfe first emerged from Italy. The arguments and authorities for this state- ment have been admirably marshalled and estimated by RejTier in his "Apostolatus Benedict inorum in Anglia" (Douai, 1626), and his proofs have been adjudged by MabiUon to amount to demonstration. [Cf. Butler, "Was St. .\ugustine a Benedictine?" in Downside Review, III (1884).] At their various stopping places during the journey through France the monks left behind them traditions concerning their rule and form of life, and probably also some copies of the Rule, for we have several e^^dences of it^