The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OCSO)
The Cistercian Order was founded in 1098 by Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Molesmes in France, who wished to return to the original simplicity of gospel living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Order flourished, house of monks and nuns blossoming across Europe. We glean some idea of the vitality of the early years in the writings of the first generations of Cistercians and in the architectural simplicity and harmony of what now lie as ruins at Fountains and Rievaulx in Yorkshire and Tintern in the Wye Valley.
Monasteries of Nuns and Monks of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance are found on all five continents and are also known as Trappists. For more information please visit the Order’s website www.ocso.org.
The Order is monastic and contemplative, ‘Cistercian nuns seek God and follow Christ under a rule and an abbess in a stable community that is a school of mutual love’, (Constitution 3.1). The monastic vocation is a call to a life apart and yet immersed in a loving care for the earth and its people, a loving care that transcends time and space.
The communities of the OCSO are ‘gathered into unity by a bond of charity’ (Constitution 4.1) to ‘help one another in coming to a more complete understanding and practice of their common patrimony and they can offer mutual encouragement and support in difficulties.’
In the UK we are the only house of Trappist Nuns, and there are four houses of Trappist Monks –Caldey Abbey off Tenby Wales, Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire, Nunraw Abbey in East Lothian and Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey in Northern Ireland. Since 2014 the Order of monks and nuns has been officially recognised as one Order.
The latest General Chapter, where all Cistercian abbots and abbesses gather together, was held in September 2022. This Chapter included a Papal Audience with Pope Francis. You may download the Abbot General's greeting and Pope Francis' talk.