Saint Benedict’s Monastery is a monastery of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, in St. Joseph, Minnesota. The Sisters trace their roots to Saint Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Six of them emigrated to St. Cloud in 1857, moving to St. Joseph in 1863. Mother Benedicta Riepp, considered the founder of Benedictine women’s communities in the United States, is buried in the monastery cemetery.
A commitment to education led the Sisters to open and staff schools in Central Minnesota and abroad. Since 1857, 1,653 Sisters have taught in 163 elementary and secondary schools located primarily in the Diocese of St. Cloud. Recognizing the need for higher education, they founded Saint Benedict’s Academy in 1878, which evolved into the College of Saint Benedict in 1913. In 1961, the Sisters transferred ownership to the College, constituting it a separately incorporated institution. As two fiscally independent corporations, the College and the Monastery share adjacent campuses but are governed by two separate Boards (the Monastic Council governs the Sisters).
The Sisters’ role in providing health care is reflected in the establishment and staffing of St. Cloud Hospital; Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague, Minn; St. Cloud School of Nursing; a school of anesthesia, a school of x-ray technology, St. Benedict’s Senior Community and other institutions.
Saint Benedict’s Monastery has been the largest Benedictine community of women in the world, with a peak membership of 1,278 in 1946. It is currently (2010) the largest Benedictine community of women in the United States with nearly 300 members.
A key development in the history of Saint Benedict’s Monastery ahs been its role in the founding of other independent houses of Benedictine women in the United States and abroad. It is currently a member of the Federation of St. Benedict, which includes Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn.; St. Paul’s Monastery, St. Paul, Minn.; St. Placid Priory, Lacey, Wash.; St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island, Ill.; Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, North Dakota; St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, Minn.; Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Muroran, Hokkaido, Japan; Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Danshui, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC; Saint Martin Monastery, Nassau, NP The Bahamas; Mount Benedict Monastery, Ogden, Utah; and Monasterio Santa Escolastica, Humacao, Puerto Rico. In addition, Saint Benedict’s Monastery founded three Native American missions in Minnesota.