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How did the Prinknash Monks start?

Prinknash Abbey is a community of Roman Catholic Benedictine Monks belonging to the English Province of the Subiaco Cassinese Congregation within the International Benedictine Confederation.

Our life is regulated by the Rule of Saint Benedict that was written 1500 years ago in Italy. It was, after the Bible, the most influential Christian document in Europe during the Middle Ages, and still has relevance today.

Our aim is to live a monastic life of prayer, work, sacred reading (the Bible and other Christian authors), community life and hospitality, all of which is based on our estate of 400 acres. People come to us, rather than we go to them. The monk’s day centres round the praying of the Divine Office (St Benedict calls it the “Work of God” in his Rule) several times a day. The community makes a incense, rosary beads, watercolour paintings and runs a bi-annual magazine called PAX. Some members of the community are ordained priests.

Our particular community began life in the Church of England when our founder, Abbot Aelred Carlyle set up a small community in the Isle of Dogs, London. After many wanderings, that community eventually settled permanently on Caldey Island off Tenby, South Wales, and became Roman Catholic in 1913. Financial pressure forced them to leave Caldey and come to Prinknash Park in December 1928, where they have been ever since. (Caldey Abbey was taken over by another branch of the Benedictine family, the Trappists). But the Prinknash community flourished in the mid-20th century, and was able to take over Saint Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough from the French in 1947, re-found Pluscarden Abbey Elgin, Moray, Scotland, in 1948 and, with Saint Augustine’s Abbey Ramsgate, and Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin, founded Kristo Buase Priory, Ghana, West Africa, which became autonomous in August 2016.

Subiaco Cassinese Benedictine Congregation

The Subiaco Benedictine Congregation started in 1851 as a Province within the ancient Italian Cassinese Benedictine Congregation (founded by Pope Gregory XII in 1408). Since this new Province, with its leader Abbot Pier Francesco Casaretto, followed a much stricter observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict, with a strong missionary thrust towards distant parts of the world outside Italy (something unknown in the Cassinese) it gradually became impossible for it to remain within the Cassinese framework, and a new Congregation was formed in 1867 (The Cassinese Congregation of the Primitive Observance) which received full Papal approval in 1872 and, in 1959, changed its name to the Subiaco Benedictine Congregation. With the passage of time, the “mother” and “daughter” Congregations were gradually reconciled and, in 2012, the Subiaco General Chapter voted the incorporation of the Cassinese Congregation into that of Subiaco, and Pope Benedict XVI put this into effect in February 2013.