Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance

The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious Order consisting of monasteries of monks and monasteries of nuns.

Cistercians working

Cistercians working

Our origins date back to the foundation of the Cistercians Order, which took place in the very end of the eleventh century. The History of the Cistercians is a very long one and suffered some transformations along the centuries. From the common trunk of the Cistercians, there are nowadays two main Orders, confirmed by the pope Leo XVIII in the beginning of the twentieth century: the Cistercians of the Strict Observance and the Cistercians of the Common Observance. One may say that our Orders are from the same family but have somehow specific charismas.

The lives of the monks and nuns of our Order are dedicated to seeking union with God, through Jesus Christ. We live in Communities, follow the Rule of Saint Benedict – being that way part of the Benedict family as well – and have proper schedules of pray and work.

Mary, the Mother of God, is specially venerated in our Order, being all monks, nuns and Monasteries dedicated to her. The feast of her Assumption into heaven, August 15, is the patronal feast of our Order.

The monastic life, on the contrary of what some people may think, doesn’t separate us from the world. Praying in union with Christ, to whom we give our whole life, we are united through Him to all our brothers and sisters in the world. God hears the prayers of all, and we pray for the world, we pray for you.

The Communities are the fundamental units of the Order. Normally, their physical expression is an Abbey, headed by an abbot or abbess elected by the Community professed members.

Community with the Order  Abbas Generalis, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald

Our Community with the Abbot General

In accordance to the “Carta Caritatis”, our Communities are autonomous but united, conserving this unity through the institutions:

  1. of the Father Immediate – the Abbot of another monastery whose responsibility include a formal visit to the Community: the Regular Visitation;
  2. and the General Chapter – the meeting of all the abbots, abbeses and superiors of the Order that normally occurs every three years, for three weeks, fostering peace and making appropriate decisions for maintaining the patrimony and unity of the Order. In these General Chapters is from time to time elected, for indefinite term, an Abbot General, whose main duty is to be a bond of unity within the Order.

Jesus call to follow Him is not always immediately clear and the path of a vocation is full of surprises. Being our Monasteries autonomous, the call to Cistercian life is a call to live in a particular community and to follow its costumes. For this reason each community handle its own vocation enquiries and the process of entering to a community differs from one to another.

A reference have to be made to the lay associates, composed by lay people who felt called to integrate into their lay vocations the most fundamental values of the Cistercian life. These people are known by different names, but are in general called “Lay Cistercians” and form groups of laity attached to a specific community of nuns or monks.