This year the Benedictine Confederation that brings together the world’s Benedictine monks’ and nuns’ congregations, is marking its 125 years. The monastic congregations were brought together in a union initiated by Pope Leo XIII in 1893, and later carried out by his successors.
The headquarters of the Benedictine Confederation is Sant’Anselmo in Rome, the seat of the Abbot Primate who presides over the Confederation.
This week has been very special for the Benedictines. Pope Francis granted some 400 representatives of the Confederation an audience on Thursday and spoke to them.
On Saturday, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin marked the feast of St. Anselm with a Mass at Sant'Anselmo.
To know more about the 125 years of the Benedictine Confederation and Sant’Anselmo, we talked to Abbot Primate Gregory Polan of the Benedictine Confederation.
He said this has been a “special week” because the representatives of various Benedictine congregations and organizations associated with them were able to come together and meet the Holy Father in the Vatican on Thursday. He noted that in his 22 years as an abbot he has always heard the Pope emphasized that ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue were an important work of Benedictines.
Pope Francis also spoke about the Benedictine charism of hospitality. The Pope said that in the world today many need to find a place where they are welcomed in the person of Christ, which Abbot Primate Polon said was part of their nearly 1500 year old Rule of St. Benedict.
In his talk to the representatives of the Benedictine Confederation, Pope Francis also spoke about one of his favorite topics – discernment. The Abbot Primate said that the Pope’s emphasis on discernment was related to the Synod on youth in October.
In their encounter with people in monasteries, the Benedictines can help them discern the “voice of God” in life, in relation to the Church and in relation to the world that surrounds us.
Service to Church
On reaching the important landmark of 125 years of the Benedictine Confederation and nearly 1500 years of the Order of St Benedict, the Benedictines are now looking to the future. Most importantly, Abbot Primate Polon said, their past history helps them to serve the Church better.
The contemplative life of the Benedictines, he said, is not removed from reality, but is always serving the Church with their prayers. This is why monasteries are very important for the world today, he added.