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BENEDICTINE


455


BENEDICTINE


to grave scandals, and the Councils of Constance (1414), Basle (1431), and Trent (1545), amongst otliers, regulated that all the professedly contem- plative orders of mms should observe strict enclosure, and this has continued to the present time as the normal riile of a Benedictine convent.

The Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth centurj' affected the nuns as well as the monks. Throughout north-western Europe the Benedictine insti- tute was practically obhterated. In Eng- land the convents were suppressed and the nuns turned adrift. In Ger- many. Denmark, and Scandina\-ia the Luthe- rans acquired most of the nunneries and ejected their inmates. The wars of religion in France also had a dis- astrous effect upon the convents of that coun- tn.-, already much en- feebled by the e\ils consequent on the practice of commendam. The last few centuries, .\ Benedictine .\bbess however, have wit-

nessed a widespread re\ival of the Benedictine life for women as well as for men. In France, especially, during the seven- teenth and eighteenth centuries, there sprang up several new congregations of Benedictine nuns, or reforms were instituted among those already exist- ing. These were not strictly congregations in the technical seruse, but rather unions or groups of houses which adopted a uniform observance, though the in- di\'idual convents still remained for the most part subject to their respective bishops. Mention may be made of the reforms of Monxmartre, Beauvais, Val-de-Grace. and Douai. and those of the Perpetual Adoration founded at Paris in 1654 and Valdosne in 1701. The French Revolution suppressed all these convents, but many have since been restored and fresh foundations added to their number.

The first convent of English nuns since the Refor- mation was founded at Brussels in 1598; and another was established at Cambrai in 162.3 under the direc- tion of the English Benedictine Fathers of Douai, from which a filiation was made at Paris in 1652. At Ghent in 1624 a convent was founded imder Jesuit guidance, and established daughter-houses at Boulogne in 1652, Ypres in 1665, and Dimkirk in 1662. All these conimimitics. except that of Ypres, were expelled at the French Revolution and escaped to England. That of Cambrai is now at Stanbrook and still remains a member of the Englisli congrega- tion under the jurisdiction of its abbot-president. The Brussels community is now at East Bergholt, and tlie Paris nuns at Colwich, whence an off-shoot has been planted at Atherstone (1842). Those of Ghent are now at Oulton; Boulogne and Dimkirk, having combined, are settled at Teignmouth. The convent of Ypres alone remains at the place of its original foundation, having sur\-ived the troublous times of the Revolution. There are also small Benedictine convents of more recent foundation at Minster (Thanet). Ventnor, Dumfries, and Tenby, and one at Princethorpe. originally a French com- munity foimded at Montargis in 1630, but driven to England in 1792, and now almost exclusively English. The nuns of Stanbrook, Oulton, Prince- thorpe, Ventnor, and Dumfries conduct boarding-


schools for the higher education of young ladies, and those of Teignmouth, Colwich, Atherstone, and Dumfries have imdertaken the work of perpetual adoration.

In Austria many of the medieval convents have remained tmdisturbed, and likewise a few in Switzer- land. In Belgium there are seven dating from the seventeenth centun,-, and in Germany fourteen, es- tabhshed mostly during the last haljf centm^'. In Italy, where at one time they were verj- numerous, there still remain, in spite of recent suppressions, eighty-five Benedictine convents dating from the Middle Ages, with over a thousand nuns. Holland has three convents of modem date, and Poland one, at Warsaw, founded in 16S7. The convents of Spain numbered thirty at the time of the suppressions of 1835. The nmis were then robbed of all their pos- sessions, but managed to preserve their corporate existence, though in great poverty and with reduced numbers. Ten of the old convents have since been restored, and eleven new ones founded. It is a pe- cuUarity of the Spanish convents that their abbesses, who are elected triennially. receive no solemn bless- ing, as elsewhere, nor do they make use of any ab- batial insignia.

Benedictine life in America may be said to be in a flourishing condition. There are tliirty-fom- con- vents with nearly two thousand mms, all of which have been founded within the last sixty years. The first establishment was at St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, where Abbot Wimmer settled some German mms from Eichstatt in 1852; this is still one of the most important convents in the United States, and from it many filiations have been made. St. Benedict's convent at St. Joseph, Minnesota, founded in 1857, is the largest Benedictine convent in America. Other important houses are at Allegheny (Pennsyl- vania), Atchison (Kansas), Chicago (2), Covington (Kentucky), Duluth (Minnesota), Erie (Pennsyl- vania), Ferdinand (Indiana), Mount Angel (Oregon), Newark (New Jersey), New Orleans (Louisiana), Shoal Creek (Arkansas), and Yankton (South Dakota). The nuns are cliiefly occupied witli the work of education, which comprises elementarj' schools as well as boarding schools for secondary education. All the .\merican convents are subject to the bishops of their respective dioceses.

III. Influence .\nd Work of the Order. — The influence exercised by the Order of St. Bene- dict has manifested itself cliiefly in three directions: (1) the con\'ersion of the Teutonic races and other missionarj' works; (2) the civilization of north- western Europe; (3) educational work and the cultivation of literature and the arts, the forming of libraries, etc.

(1) Missionary Work of the Order. — At the time of St. Benedict's death (c. 543) the only countries of Western Europe which had been Christianized were Italy, Spain, Gaul, and parts of the British Isles. The remaining countries all received the Gospel dur- ing the next few centuries, either wholly or partially through the preaching of the Benedictines. Begin- ning with St. Augustine's arrival in England in 597, the missionarj' work of the order can be easily traced. The companions of St. Augustine, who is usually called the ".\postle of England", planted the Faith anew throughout the country whence it had been driven out nearly two centuries pre\-iously by the Anglo-Saxon and other heathen invaders. St. Augustine and St. Lawrence at Canterbury, St. Justus at Rochester, St. Mellitus at London, and St. Paulinus at York were Benedictine pioneers, and their labours were afterwards supplemented by other monks who, though not strictly Benedictine, were at least assisted by the black monks in establishing the Faith. Thus St. Birinus evangehzed Wessex, St. Chad the Midlands, and St. Felix East Anglia,