History

The Camaldolese are part of the great Benedictine family founded by Saint Benedict in the sixth century. The Camoldolese branch was established through the reforming efforts of the eleventh century Italian monk Saint Romuald. His reform sought to revitalize the best of the communal and solitary dimensions of monastic life. Nearly a thousand years ago, Saint Romuald founded the Hermitage of Camaldoli high in the mountains of central Italy. There are Camaldolese hermitages and monasteries up and down Italy. The most ancient is the urban monastery of Saint Gregory the Great in the heart of Rome.


The Camaldolese are also in Poland, France, India, Brazil, and Tanzania. The Camaldolese Benedictine life was brought to the United States in 1958, with the founding of New Camaldoli Hermitage in the Santa Lucia mountains of Big Sur, California. Since then, the Hermitage has developed into an established expression of the contemplative and eremitical dimension of monastic life. An urban house in Berkeley, CA, Incarnation Monastery, also serves as a house of studies. A community of women, Transfiguration Monastery, is located in Windsor, NY.

 


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Saint Romuald’s Brief Rule

Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms—never leave it.

If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.

And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.

Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.

Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.