Rule of Saint Benedict


Ora et labora (pray and work) is the well-known phrase that reflects the basic idea underlying the rule of monastic life, which was originally formulated by Saint Benedict of Nursia (around 480−547) and initially intended as an internal rule for the monks of Benedict’s own monastery of Montecassino in Italy. The Rule of Saint Benedict spread widely beginning in the seventh century, but in France it became the sole authoritative rule of the order only in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Adoption of the rule was mainly the result of the reforming efforts of Benedict of Aniane (circa 750−821), aided by the political support of the emperor Charlemagne (742−814) and his son and successor Louis the Pious (778−840). The manuscript presented here is based on a copy commissioned by Charlemagne in the years after 787, with the aim of establishing an authentic version of the rule. It represents the earliest manuscript of the Rule of Saint Benedict in Bavaria that has been preserved. The text starts on an illuminated page showing a Latin cross with circular trimmings under an arcade arch. The decoration of the initials shows influences from northern Italy. The manuscript is attributed to a scribe named Dominicus, whose handwriting can also be found in another manuscript from the Benedictine abbey of Tegernsee, located on the Tegernsee in southern Bavaria. This suggests that this manuscript most likely was written for and owned by the monastery. In the course of the secularization of the monasteries, the manuscript came to Munich in 1803.

Last updated: August 28, 2015