Date of Award

Spring 1976

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Saint Benedict is regarded by most figures of the Middle Ages, and by historians and monks of the modern world, as the patriarch and founder of all institutes of western monasticism. His fame and place in Christian history, however, are due solely to his short work, The Rule of Saint Benedict. No life could be more remote from the turbulence of the sixth century, and no individual could appear less likely to contribute to the development of modern Europe. Yet Benedict's achievements were so influential that centuries after his death (600-1200 A.D.) were known collectively as the Benedictine Age. "The institute which he founded became a tremendous force in Church and State, converting, civilizing, unifying the people of Christendom, and containing within itself the social pattern of the new age."

Benedict's basic premise was to form a community of monks bound to live together until death in the monastery of their profession, under common rules as a religious family, and leading a life not of extreme austerity, but devoted to the service of God. Their "service" consisted of the "community act of celebration of the divine office and ordered daily manual labor and religious reading, according to the Rule and under obedience to the abbot." Benedict's monastery was not to be a penitentiary or a "school for ascetic mountaineering" -- it was simply a family and a home for those seeking God.

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