St. Benedict lived in central Italy around 480-537. He studied for a while in Rome, but found the student life there unappealing and left to live as a hermit, aided by a monk named Romanus who supplied him with food. He was invited to be abbot of a monastery, but the monks tried to kill him with poisoned wine, and he had to leave another monastery when a jealous local priest sent him poisoned bread, which was disposed of by a friendly crow. Throughout these years he grew in holiness and discretion. He established a monastery at Monte Cassino. He wrote a Rule for Monks which Pope Gregory the Great, his biography, described as lucid and discerning. His Rule drew on earlier rules, particular one called the Rule of the Master, which was much longer than the Rule Benedict that wrote. The Rule of St. Benedict spread slowly; for several centuries it was often used in conjunction with other rules. The Carolingian Rulers (ca. 800) encouraged the use of Benedictâ€™s Rule by monasteries in their territories. For the next 300 years it was the monastic Rule. During these centuries Benedictine monasteries were pre-eminent centers of culture, theology and evangelization. Sts. Bede, Boniface, Anselm, and Hildegard are outstanding representatives of the vitality of Benedictines at this time.
New religious orders spread rapidly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They had centralized organizational structures and were usually founded for very specific purposes. Benedictine monasteries were independent and the order had no special mission other than to be a welcoming, prayerful Christian community. In the 14th century monasteries were organized into regional congregations, as they still are today.
Monasteries shared in the currents of renewal and reform in the Church during the fifteenth century. Although perhaps half the monasteries in Europe were closed at the Reformation, Benedictine monasticism continued to thrive in Catholic countries. Monasteries in German lands were centers of Baroque culture, and in France monks of the Maurist Congregation pioneered the techniques of modern historical scholarship.
At the French Revolution and during the decade after it, most monasteries in Europe were closed. Only some in Austria and the Catholic parts of Switzerland survived. From that remnant the order again flourished during the 19th century. The monastery of Engelberg in Switzerland founded Mount Angel Abbey in 1882, and monks from there founded the monastery of the Ascension in 1965.
Our Monastic Community
The phone and fax number for the monastery is 208-324-2377. When callers reach that number they are asked for an extension number. Here are some key phone numbers, including all the monks:
Prior Boniface 207 Fr. Andrew 206 Fr. Hugh 202 (cell: 208-761-9389) Fr. Kenneth 205 Fr. Meinrad 203 Fr. Ezekiel Lotz, OSB Br. Sylvester 213 Br. Tobiah 210 Br. Selby 215 Br. John 204 John Wasko 219 Kitchen (LuAnn Stites-Kraft) 212 Business Office 256