Saint Benedict was born in Nursia in Italy. He left Rome where he had been a student in order to live as a hermit in a cave at Subiaco. Shortly, other disciples joined him. Towards 569 he settled near Monte Casino with a group of monks. His rule is flexible and wise, founded on the monastic tradition and scripture.
The Olivetan congregation
The Benedictine congregation of Saint Mary of Mount Olivet was founded in the 14th century by a Siennese nobleman, Saint Bernard Tolomei (1272-1348), canonised in 2009. From its Italian roots the congregation gradually spread throughout the world. Today it is present in America, Africa and Asia as well as Europe.
Saint Frances of Rome
Born into a roman aristocratic family in 1384, Frances was married in 1396 and had 3 children. These were troubled times and she responded by caring for the poor and working for church unity. On the 15th August 1425, she became an oblate of the Olivetan monastery Santa Maria Nova. In 1433, she founded the community of Tor de ‘Specchi in Rome.
The founding of our community.
In 1919, a young war widow named Mme de Wavrechin discovered St Frances whilst on pilgrimage to Rome. In 1924, she founded our community at Cormeilles–en–Parisis linked to that of the monks in Mesnil st Loup. In 1949 we followed our brothers when they came to bring monastic life back to the Abbey of Le Bec.
Jehanne Feray was born in 1885. She married Roland de Wavrechin in 1907. In 1916 he was killed in action. She founded our community in 1924 and received the name of Mother Marie-Elisabeth. Together with three other sisters, she made her oblation on 15th August 1925. She left this life 50 years later in August 1975.
Return to Mesnil and the foundation of Abu-Gosh
The origins of the Olivetan Benedictine congregation in France and of our communities began at Mesnil St Loup in the Champagne region.
Since 1976 our brothers and sisters have lived at Abu Gosh, Emmaus, constantly attentive to the mystery of Israel in communion with our Jewish brethren.
`That they all may be one….’ John 17,21.
Our history means that our communities are deeply marked by ecumenism and committed to the unity of Christians. Since our arrival in Le Bec in 1948, the shared history of the site, linking Bec to Canterbury, has enabled us to have a particular link to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican communion.