Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance
Abbreviation Order of Trappists (O.C.S.O.)
Type Catholic religious order

The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.: Ordo Cisterciensis Strictioris Observantiae), or Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. The Trappists are a branch of the Order of Cistercians and like the other Cistercian orders, they have a women's branch, commonly referred to as the Trappistines.



The order takes the name of "Trappist" from La Trappe Abbey or La Grande Trappe in Normandy in France. A reform movement began there in 1664, in reaction to the relaxation of practices in many Cistercian monasteries.[1] Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé, originally the commendatory abbot of La Trappe, led the reform. As commendatory abbot, de Rancé was a layman who obtained income from the monastery but had no religious obligations. After a conversion of life between 1660 and 1662, de Rancé formally joined the abbey and became its regular abbot in 1663.[2] In 1892 the reformed "Trappists" broke away from the Cistercian order and formed an independent monastic order with the approval of the Pope.[3]

Monastic life

A Trappist monk reading in his cell.

The life of the Trappists is guided by the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the sixth century. The Rule describes ideals and values of a monastic life.

"Strict Observance" refers to the Trappists' goal to follow closely St. Benedict's Rule, and take the three vows described in his Rule (c. 58): stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. As Benedict also insisted on silence, it has some importance in their way of life. However, contrary to popular belief, they do not take a vow of silence.[4] Trappist monks will generally only speak when necessary, and idle talk is strongly discouraged. As described by St. Benedict, speech disturbs a disciple's duty for quietude and receptivity, and may tempt one to exercise one's own will instead of the will of God. Speech which leads to unkind amusement or laughter is seen as evil and is banned.[5] In years past, a Trappist Sign Language, distinct from other forms of monastic sign language, was developed to dissuade speaking. Meals are usually taken in contemplative silence, as members of the order are supposed to listen to a reading.[6]

The Trappists have received greater attention in recent years because of the popularity of the writings of Thomas Merton, a member of the order. More recently, a critically acclaimed film, Of Gods and Men, and the popularity of Trappist ales, such as Chimay, Westmalle, and a select few others, has brought additional publicity to the order.

Goods for sale

The 48th chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict states "for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands".[7]

Following this rule, most Trappist monasteries produce goods which are sold to provide income for the monastery. The goods produced range from cheese, bread and other foodstuffs to clothing and coffins. As the order does not require abstention from alcohol, some monasteries produce and sell alcoholic beverages. Monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Orval Abbey and Westvleteren Abbey, brew beer both for the monks and for sale to the general public. Trappist beers contain residual sugars and living yeast, and, as bottle-conditioned beers do,[8] will improve with age. These have become quite famous and are considered by many beer critics to be amongst the finest in the world.[9]


There are nearly 170 Trappist monasteries and convents in the world, homes to approximately 2,100 Trappist monks and 1,800 Trappistine nuns.[10]

Orval Abbey, near Florenville, Belgium


  • Monasterio Trapense Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, near Azul, Buenos Aires
Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Monastery of St. Mary of Miraflores, Rancagua
  • Monasterio Nuestra Señora de Quilvo (Trappistine nuns), Curico
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
  • Monasterio Santa María del Evangelio, Jarabacoa
  • "Our Lady of Hope" Monastery (nuns), Emeraldas
Great Britain
Hong Kong
  • Temanggung known as Pertapaan Santa Maria, Rawaseneng (Central Java, about 50 kilometers south-west Semarang, Central Java) (monks)
  • Gedono known as Pertapaan Bunda Pemersatu, Gedono (Central Java, Salatiga) (nuns)
  • Wallanabi (Flores) (monks)
Ireland & Northern Ireland
New Zealand
  • Nuns
    • Santa María Gratia Dei Monastery
    • Monastery of Alloz
    • Our Lady of Vico Monastery
    • Santa María la Real
    • Santa Ana Monastery
    • Santa María de Carrizo Monastery
    • Our Lady of Charity Monastery
    • Our Lady of Peace Monastery
    • Monastery of Armenteira
United States
  • Monasterio Trapense Nuestra Señora de los Andes, Mérida


The Trappist monks of the Tre Fontane (Three Fountains) Abbey raise the lambs whose wool is used to make the pallia of new metropolitan archbishops. The Pope presents the pallia to them on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles; they are blessed by the Pope on the Feast of Saint Agnes, January 21.

See also


  1. ^ M. Basil Pennington, OCSO. "The Cistercians: An Introductory History". The Order of Saint Benedict. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Jean-Armand Le Bouthillier de Rance". 1911-06-01. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  3. ^ OCist.Hu - A Ciszterci Rend Zirci Apátsága (2002-12-31). "History". OCist.Hu. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "OSB. Rule of Benedict : Text, English, Jan May Sep 3/3". 2006-05-06. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  6. ^ Rule of St. Benedict, c. 38: Reading must not be wanting at the table of the brethren when they are eating. The 1949 Edition Translated by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB
  7. ^ "The Rule of St. Benedict". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  8. ^ "New Camra guide has lots of bottle - 02/08/06". CAMRA. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  9. ^ "Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter - Chastity, poverty and a pint". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  10. ^ [2][dead link]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Trappists — • The Cistercians who follow the reform inaugurated by the Abbot de Rancé (b. 1626; d. 1700) in the Abbey of La Trappe, and often now applied to the entire Order of Reformed Cistercians Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Trappists      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • TRAPPISTS —    an order of Cistercian monks founded in 1140 at La Trappe, in the French department of Orne, noted for the severity of their discipline, their worship of silence and devotion to work, meditation, and prayer, 12 hours out of the 24 of which… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Trappists — n. monk of the Cistercian order …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Trappists —    Members of a strict branch of the Cistercian Order founded by A.J. le B. de Rancé in the seventeenth century …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Trappists monastery — monastery located in Latrun (outside of Jerusalem) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Cistercians — • Religious of the Order of Cîteaux, a Benedictine reform, established at Cîteaux in 1098 by St. Robert, Abbot of Molesme in the Diocese of Langres, for the purpose of restoring as far as possible the literal observance of the Rule of St.… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Cistercians — coat of arms Vietnamese Cistercian monks standing in a cloi …   Wikipedia

  • La Trappe — • Abbey of the Order of Reformed Cistercians Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. La Trappe     La Trappe     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Trappist beer — A Trappist beer is a beer brewed by or under control of Trappist monks. Of the world s 171 Trappist monasteries (as of April 2005), seven produce beer (six in Belgium and one in The Netherlands). Only these seven breweries are authorized to label …   Wikipedia

  • Mariawald Abbey — (German: Abtei Mariawald) is a monastery of the Trappists (formally known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance),[1] located above the village of Hei …   Wikipedia