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Benedictine Order

Benedictine Order, the general name of all monks and nuns following the rule of St. Benedict. His first monastery was founded at Subiaco, near Rome, his next at Monte Cassino, near Naples. The order includes an immense number of well-known names - Gregory the Great, the first of a list of fifty Benedictine popes; St. Augustine, his disciple, who preached Christianity in Britain; St. Boniface, the apostle of North Germany; Ansgar, the apostle of Denmark ; Adalbert and Casimir, who respectively brought the Gospel to the Bohemians and Poles; Anselm, Bernard of Clugny, and many others. The monasteries of the order are grouped into orders and congregations, named after the abbey in which they have arisen, or from some country or a patron saint. Thus the Cistercians are named from Citeaux; the Camaldolese from Camaldoli, near Arezzo, in Tuscany; the Silvestrians and Celestines from their founder; the Olivetans from the name of their first monastery. At the Reformation the number of Benedictine abbeys was reduced from over 15,000 to about 5,000; at the present day there are about 800. In England there were 113 Benedictine abbeys and seventy-three Benedictine nunneries at the Reformation. The cathedrals of St. Albans, Peterborough, Bath, Gloucester, and Chester; Westminster Abbey, and the churches of Canterbury, Romsey (Hants), Great Malvern, Shrewsbury, and Brecon were all originally Benedictine churches. Iona, too, belonged to the Benedictine order. The modern Benedictine Abbey at Fort Augustus (Inverness-shire), the only one in Scotland, is familiar to travellers by the Caledonian Canal. The great abbey of Monte Cassino, near Naples (founded in 1415, but an abbey had been founded on the site by St. Benedict), was one of the few exempted for the sake of its history when the monasteries were dissolved in 1869. The Armenian Mechitarist monastery of San Lazzaro, near Venice, where Lord Byron spent some time, is a Benedictine house, called after its founder, Mechitar. The rule of St. Benedict was the first to bind a monk to a permanent abode in a monastery throughout life. Hospitality and the promotion of learning are also specially inculcated. The Benedictine habit is a tunic, scapular, and cowl with hood; the usual colour is black, though some congregations, as the Cistercians, wear white.