Catholic Educational Heritage: Benedictine

Saint Martin's University

Fifteen hundred years ago, an Italian hermit named Benedict abandoned his solitary life in a cave to establish a community of monks. Those who joined the community followed a code: the Rule of Benedict. For Benedictine schools, the Rule continues to provide a foundation for learning and living.

Most Benedictine universities are home to either monks (men) or sisters (women) who live in monasteries on campus. Often, they actively support and contribute to the university’s liberal arts curriculum. However, while the monks and sisters are an important part of a Benedictine university’s identity, there are five values in particular that define a Benedictine education: community, stewardship, hospitality, stability, and a love of learning.

Community is a call to service for the common good. Benedictines unify their efforts through respect for the particular gifts and talents of each person, used for the benefit of all. Stewardship recognizes the presence of God everywhere. This translates to a respectful use of human resources and resourceful care of the environment, allowing us to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.

Hospitality is an openness that welcomes a diversity of peoples with a common spirit of reverence and respect. The global mission of a Benedictine institution is to foster a hospitable reception of others in a caring environment. Stability supports a sense of belonging and commitment—accomplished through listening. Benedictines emphasize the importance of listening with the heart, especially through prayer.

Since the Middle Ages, Benedictine schools have fostered a love of learning. Benedictine higher education is student centered and seeks to integrate classroom material into the fabric of life. The educational process is intended not only to impart knowledge, but to help build moral character so students may become responsible leaders. Students come away with a strong sense of these values, equipped to not just survive but flourish in an ever-changing world. 

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