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The order was founded by Saint Benedict early in the sixth century. In 1215 Pope Innocent III decreed that the Benedictine abbeys should form themselves into congrega- tions by countries. The English abbeys were the first to complete their organization; the English congregation is consequently the oldest. The various congregations form the worldwide Benedictine Order, and all follow the same Rule, though not in exactly the same way. Many monasteries, but not all, are involved in the work of education.

The monastery was founded as Saint Louis Priory in 1955 from Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, England. The Ampleforth Community was first established at Westminster, a hundred years or more before the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Here the monks of this royal abbey witnessed the coronation of the kings of England until, at the dissolu- tion of the monasteries under Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, they were dispersed. After a brief restoration under Queen Mary (1556-8) the abbey was again dissolved, and only by the slenderest thread was the continuity of the community preserved until its transplantation to Dieulouard in eastern France. Here the monks survived, running both a school and a brewery, until the French Revolution. Expelled then from France, they returned to England. Here, after some wandering, they found their home in 1802 at Ampleforth, where they have since been running a school, but no brewery. The Saint Louis Priory became independent of Ampleforth in 1973 and was raised to the status of an abbey in 1989.

A Benedictine monk is a Christian who seeks to be ever closer to God in ordered prayer and in service to others. He takes a vow of stability, permanently committing himself to Saint Louis Abbey. Together, monks live in love and obedience to their abbot or prior and to one another according to Saint Benedict’s Rule, in a monastery. They form a spiritual family centered in God and open to the world through hospitality and service.

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