We Sisters of Saint Benedict trace our history back to sixth century Italy when Saint Benedict of Nursia wrote his Rule for Monks at Monte Cassino. Benedict and his twin sister, Scholastica, had been born to a moderately wealthy family in Nursia about the year 480. Benedict founded the monastery at Monte Cassino while his twin sister was nearby at Plumbariola.
From Monte Cassino, monasteries spread throughout Italy, and in 596 Pope Gregory asked Saint Augustine to spread the faith to the people of the British Isles. Augustine established a monastery at Canterbury. Monasteries spread throughout England. Boniface, a monk of Adescancastre near Exeter, left England to convert the tribes of Germany.
Benedictine women also followed Boniface to Germany, and among them was Saint Walburga, the patron of a monastery established in Eichstätt in 1035. In 1852, Mother Benedicta Riepp and two other sisters were asked to establish a Benedictine monastery in the United States to teach German immigrants. She established seven monasteries before her death, one of which was located at Saint Joseph, MN.
In 1892, Mother Scholastica Kerst from Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Saint Joseph, founded Saint Scholastica’s Monastery in Duluth. From Duluth, in 1919, Mother Eustacia Beyenka and 42 sisters established Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Crookston.
In 1923, they started Mount Saint Benedict Academy in their newly constructed motherhouse. Since the founding of Mount Saint Benedict, sisters have been involved primarily in healing and teaching ministries.
Sisters served in schools in Bemidji, Mahnomen, Moorhead, Thief River Falls, Crookston, Barnesville, Park Rapids, Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls, Benson, Mahtomedi and Osseo in Minnesota, in Lefor, ND, in Asherton and Carrizo Springs, TX, and in Bogota, Colombia. They staffed health care institutions in Crookston, Red Lake Falls, Mahnomen, Bemidji and Detroit Lakes.
Photos: Top: Monte Cassino Abbey, bottom: Saint Walburga's Abbey, Eichstatt, Bavaria (photo from Wikimapia).