The Benedictine Congregation Of The Annunciation

The Belgian Congregation of monks of the Order of St. Benedict under the title of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (become in 1967 the Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation) was erected by Apostolic Brief on February 20th 1920.

The Congregation of the Annunciation is the only one not to bear the name of a place. Following the normal practice when it was established, it was very quickly called "The Belgian Congregation" because it was comprised of three monasteries situated in Belgium. In the course of the years, as it expanded, the Congregation became more and more international, although the nucleus remained Belgian. At the General Chapter of 1966, it was decided to adopt the name of Congregation of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Roman decree of 5th April 1967 ratified that choice. From then, the Congregation bears the name of "Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation" (the liturgical calendar refers henceforth to The Annunciation of the Lord).

By a Brief, dated February 20th 1920, Pope Benedict XV formed a federation between three monasteries situated in Belgium Maredsous, Mont César, and St. André at Bruges. Maredsous and Mont César, a foundation of Maredsous, belonged until then to the Benedictine Congregation of Beuron, which monastery founded Maredsous. The political situation ensuing from the First World War (1914-1918) led to this withdrawl from a Congregation which had its headquarters in Germany. Saint-André belonged to the Brazilian Benedictine Congregation, and was detached from it to join the other two monasteries. This was the beginning of the new Benedictine Con-gregation of the Annunciation.

The Monastery of Benedictine Nuns at Maradret, near Mared- sous, also formed part of the Beuronese Congregation. It was later to be incorporated into the new Congregation, on August 24th, 1927.

The subsequent history of the Congregation is a succession of foundations, of existing monasteries joining the Congregation, and of others leaving it. This gives to the Congregation as constituted at the present time a very international flavour. It is to be found in four of the five continents. Europe (Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia). Africa (Angola, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda). Middle East (Israël). Asia (India). America (North America, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago).

In the course of the years the following monasteries have joined the Congregation: Singeverga (Portugal), Trinidad (West Indies), Trier (Germany), Etiolles (France), Egmond (Netherlands), Dormition, Jerusalem (Israël).

On June 10th 1968, the monastery of Mont César, Louvain (Belgium) withdrew from the Congregation to join the Flemish Province of the Subiaco Congregation.

The same international character is also to be found in the monasteries affiliated to the Congregation. Affiliation implies a moral link, without a formal juridical character. These affiliated monasteries are, with two exceptions, monasteries of Benedictine women. They are to be found in Belgium, Portugal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tchad, Angola, Palestine, Brazil, Mexico, West Indies. The two monasteries of men are, one in Italy, the other in Sweden. These various affiliations have emerged over the years according to various circumstances.

One can see that the "Belgian" character of the Congregation has largely faded and the structures of governement of the Congregation have adapted accordingly.

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