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The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.: Ordo Cisterciensis Strictioris Observantiae), or Trappists, are a contemplative Roman Catholic religious order (see list of Catholic orders), that follows the Rule of St. Benedict.

They are a branch of the Cistercians and like the other Cistercian orders they also have a women's branch commonly referred to as the Trappistines.


The order takes the name of "Trappist" from La Trappe Abbeymarker or "La Grande Trappe" in Normandy in Francemarker, where it began as a reform movement in 1664, in reaction to the relaxation of practices in many Cistercian monasteries. The reform was led by Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé, originally the commendatory abbot of La Trappe. As commendatory abbot, de Rancé was a layman who obtained income from the monastery but had no religious obligations. After a conversion of life between 1660 and 1662, de Rancé formally joined the abbey and became its regular abbot in 1663.

Monastic life

The life of the Trappists is guided by the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the sixth century. The Rule describes ideals and values of a monastic life.

"Strict Observance" refers to the trappists' aim at following closely St. Benedict's Rule, and take the three vows described in his Rule (c. 58): stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. As Benedict also insisted on silence, it has some importance in their way of life. However, contrary to popular belief,they do not take a vow of silence. Trappist monks will generally only speak when necessary, and idle talk is strongly discouraged. In years past, a Trappist Sign Language, distinct from other forms of monastic sign language, was developed to dissuade speaking. Meals are usually taken in contemplative silence, as members of the order are supposed to listen to a reading . Trappists' silence should be understood as the wish to give space to what matters: gaining a deeper love and understanding of God.

The Trappists have received greater attention in recent years because of the popularity of the writings of Thomas Merton and, more recently, because of the popularity of Trappist ales such as Chimaymarker, Westmalle, and a select few others.

Goods for sale

The 48th chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict states "for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands"

Following this rule, most Trappist monasteries produce goods that are then sold to provide an income for the monastery. The goods produced can range from cheese, bread and other foodstuffs to clothing and coffins. As the order does not require abstention from alcohol, some monasteries produce and sell alcoholic beverages. Some monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Orval Abbeymarker and Westvleteren Abbeymarker, brew beer both for the monks and for sale to the general public. Trappist beers contain residual sugars and living yeast, and, as bottle-conditioned beers do

, will improve with age. These have become quite famous and are considered by many beer critics to be amongst the finest in the world.


Currently there are nearly 170 Trappist monasteries in the world, the home of approximately 2,500 Trappist monks and 1,800 Trappist nuns.






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  • Temanggungmarker known as Pertapaan Trapis Rawaseneng (Central Java, about 50 kilometers south-west Semarang, Central Java)






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See also


  1. CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Jean-Armand Le Bouthillier de Rance
  2. FAQ-eng
  3. Rule of St. Benedict, c. 38: Reading must not be wanting at the table of the brethren when they are eating. The 1949 Edition Translated by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB.
  4. Rule of Benedict, Chapter 48. From the 1949 Edition. Translated by Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB of St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas.
  5. CAMRA bottled beer guide, 6th edition
  6. Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter - Chastity, poverty and a pint
  7. FAQ-eng

External links

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