The Olivetans, or the Order of Our Lady of Mount Olivet, are a monastic order formally recognised in 1344. They have formed the Olivetan Congregation within the Benedictine Confederation since 1960.

Portrait of an Olivetan Monk - Battista Franco (attributed)
Depiction of an Olivetan monk, 16th century



Monte Oliveto Maggiore

The Order of Our Lady of Mount Olivet is a small Roman Catholic order, founded in 1313 by Bernardo Tolomei (born Giovanni Tolomei) along with two of his friends from the noble families of Siena, Patrizio Patrizi and Ambrogio Piccolomini. They initially lived as hermits in the "savage waste of Accona". The building of the monastery here began with the approbation of the foundation charter by Guido Tarlati, bishop of Arezzo (26 March 1319).[1]

The name "Olivetan" comes from the name of the order's original hermitage, called Monte Oliveto in honour of Christ’s Passion.[1] The monastery later became known as "Monte Oliveto Maggiore" ("greater") to distinguish it from successive foundations at Florence, San Gimignano, Naples and elsewhere. It is still the mother house of the order or congregation.

After the arrival of a number of new followers, the nascent community adopted the Rule of St. Benedict and was recognised by Pope Clement VI in 1344.[2] In 1408 Gregory XII gave them the extinct monastery of St. Justina at Padua, which they occupied until the institution there of the Benedictine reform.[1]


Unlike many other Benedictine congregations, the Olivetans have a centralized structure, supervised by the abbot general at Monte Oliveto Maggiore.[3] Olivetan Benedictines wear a white habit.

The Olivetan monks run Bec Abbey in France, which was left in ruins in 1792 by the French Revolution. In 1948 Olivetans from the Monastery of Our Lady of Holy Hope at Mesnil-Saint-Loup and the Monastery of the Virgin Mary at Cormeilles-en-Parisis re-established the monastery at Bec.

In 1955, Benedictine monks from St. Benedict’s Abbey in Wisconsin took over the former Trappist monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico. In 1985, the monastery became part of the Olivetan congregation. The abbey offers retreats and spiritual direction.[4]

The Monastery of Christ Our Saviour was founded in 1980 in the village of Turvey Abbey, Bedfordshire. Adjacent to the monastery is the Priory of Our Lady of Peace of Olivetan Benedictine nuns. The monastery and the priory share worship services. While the monks have no outside apostolate, guests are welcome. The priory is not open to the public, but the chapel is open and visitors are welcome.[5]

The Congregation also maintain abbeys and prioral churches in Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil.[2] In 1960 they formed the Olivetan Congregation within the Benedictine Confederation.

Olivetan Benedictine Women

Olivetan nuns are distinguished from the sisters in that the nuns focus primarily on the Divine Office according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, while the sisters engage in outside apostolates such as religious education or pastoral care, and therefore follow a modified form of the rule.[6]

In 1874, Benedictine sisters from the Convent of Maria Rickenbach in the Canton of Unterwalden, Switzerland arrived as teachers in Maryville, Missouri. Shortly thereafter some of the sisters were sent to Arkansas. In 1893 the Arkansas community affiliated with the Olivetans. In 1900, they opened St. Bernard's Hospital in Jonesboro.[6]

In popular culture

The Prophecy of St. Malachy is a supposed list of 112 popes beginning in 1143 with Pope Celestine II and continuing apparently to the end of time. It was allegedly discovered around 1595 by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon, who attributes it to the 12th century Malachy of Armagh. Each pope is identified with a short cryptic motto. The next to last pope has the motto Gloria oliuæ (Glory of the olive).

After the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the papacy in 2005, proponents of the prophecy connected him to the entry for the next to last pope: Ratzinger chose the name Benedict; one of the Benedictine congregations is the Olivetans, thus, Gloria oliuæ.

However, there is no particular connection between the Olivetan Order and Pope Benedict XVI. In 1139, Malachy visited Rome, stopping at Clairvaux Abbey both on the way and on his return. His contemporary, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote a vita of St. Malachy, providing many interesting anecdotes, but does not mention any prophecy. Reputable church historians since the 18th century have considered "The Prophecy of St. Malachy" a forgery,[7] most likely written around 1590. Most scholars consider the document a 16th-century elaborate hoax,[8] bearing similarities to a 1557 history of the popes by Onofrio Panvinio, including mistakes.[9]

Thomas Groome, of Boston College said, "...the 'Prophecies of St. Malachy' are a grand old fun tale that have about as much reliability as the morning horoscope".[7]


  1. ^ a b c Almond, Joseph Cuthbert. "Olivetans." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 10 April 2019 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b "St Bernard Tolomei & The Congregation of Monte Oliveto", The Benedictine Monks, UK
  3. ^ "Monastic life", Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
  4. ^ Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, Pecos, New Mexico
  5. ^ Priory of Our Lady of Peace, Turvey Abbey, Bedfordshire
  6. ^ a b "History", Olivetan Benedictine Sisters
  7. ^ a b Sieczkowski, Cavan. "St. Malachy Last Pope Prophecy: What Theologians Think About 12th-Century Prediction", HuffPost.com, Dec 06, 2017
  8. ^ Lorenzi, Rossella (13 February 2013). "Resigning Pope Brings Doomsday Prophecy". Discovery News.
  9. ^ O'Brien, M. J. (1880). An historical and critical account of the so-called Prophecy of St. Malachy, regarding the succession of the popes. Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Olivetans" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.


  • Giuseppe Picasso. "La spiritualità dell'antico monachesimo alle origini di Monte Oliveto," in Giancarlo Andenna / Mirko Breitenstein / Gert Melville (eds.): Charisma und religiöse Gemeinschaften im Mittelalter. Akten des 3. Internationalen Kongresses des "Italienisch-deutschen Zentrums für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte". Münster / Hamburg / Berlin / London: LIT 2005 (Vita regularis. Ordnungen und Deutungen religiosen Lebens im Mittelalter, 26), 443-461.

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Angiolo Maria Colomboni

Angiolo Maria Colomboni (1608–1672) was an Italian monk, mathematician, and draughtsman, drawing mainly detailed flowers and birds.

He was born in Gubbio in 1608, and joined the monastic order of Olivetans. He applied himself to mathematics. In 1669, while in Bologna, he printed a mathematical text titled Practica Gnomonica. His drawings of flowers and birds, have been compared to those of Giovanni da Udine. In Bologna, he achieved the title of abbot, but returned to Gubbio to indulge his studies.

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Bernardo Tolomei

Saint Bernardo Tolomei (10 May 1272 – 20 August 1348) was an Italian Roman Catholic theologian and the founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto. In the Roman Martyrology he is commemorated on August 20, but in the Benedictine calendar his optional memorial is celebrated on the previous day.Bernardo Tolomei was beatified by Pope Innocent X on 24 November 1644 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 26 April 2009.


CIDSE, which is short for "Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité" (French for "International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity"), is an umbrella organization for Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America.

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A dicastery (from Greek δικαστήριον, law-court, from δικαστής, judge/juror) is a department of the Roman Curia, the administration of the Holy See through which the pope directs the Roman Catholic Church. The most recent comprehensive constitution of the church, Pastor bonus (1988), includes this definition:

By the word "dicasteries" are understood the Secretariat of State, Congregations, Tribunals, Councils and Offices, namely, the Apostolic Camera, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

Francesco Fiorelli

Francesco Fiorelli (17th-century) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period.

Fiorelli studied with Andrea Sacchi in Rome. He painted a life of St Benedict in the cloister of the Olivetans in Ascoli Piceno in 1615. He was buried in the church of San Martino in Fermo.

International Federation of Catholic Universities

The International Federation of Catholic Universities' (IFCU) is an organisation of over 200 Catholic universities throughout the world.

International Union of Catholic Esperantists

The International Union of Catholic Esperantists (Esperanto: Internacia Katolika Unuiĝo Esperantista, IKUE) is an organization of Catholic Esperanto speakers. It was founded in 1910 in Paris and is now headquartered in Rome.

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Octava Dies is a 25 minute weekly TV magazine show, which broadcasts worldwide since Easter 1998. It is also broadcast by Italian Catholic television channels and by press agencies such as APTN. It is available in English and Italian on the Vatican’s website (broadcast every Sunday at 12:30 after the Angelus).

The magazine is part of the Vatican Television Center (CTV) programs, which are transmitted by the national broadcaster of the state of Vatican City. This specific weekly program highlights the activities of Pope Francis and the Holy See. Taped at the Vatican and in other places visited by the Pope in the course of his day-to-day ministry.Vatican Central Television was first aired in 1983.

Oratorio di San Protaso

The Oratorio di San Protaso ("Oratory of Saint Protasius"; Lombard: Oratori de San Protas [uraˈtɔri de ˌsãː pruˈtɑːs], colloquially known as Gesetta di Lusert [dʒeˈzɛta di lyˈzɛrt] "Little Church of the Lizards") is a church in via Lorenteggio, Milan, Lombardy.

Order of the Most Holy Annunciation

The Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (Latin: Ordo SS. Annuntiationis), also known as the Turchine or Blue Nuns, is a Roman Catholic religious order of contemplative nuns formed in honour of the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ at Genoa, in Italy, by the Blessed Maria Vittoria De Fornari Strata.

Pope Clement VIII approved the religious order on 5 August 1604, placing it under the Rule of Saint Augustine.

At present, the order has monasteries in Brazil, France, Italy, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, and Spain.

Rite of Braga

The Rite of Braga (or Bragan Rite) is a Catholic liturgical rite associated with the Archdiocese of Braga in Portugal.

San Vittore al Corpo, Milan

The church and monastery of San Vittore al Corpo were an ancient monastery of the Olivetan order built in the early 16th century.

The site was once a fourth century Roman imperial mausoleum of Maximian, that may also have held the burials of the emperors Gratian and Valentinian II, though they were more likely buried in another mausoleum, now the Chapel of Saint Aquilinus in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The basilica was enlarged in the 8th century to house the relics of the saints Vittore and Satiro. A Benedictine monastery soon was attached to the church. In 1507, the monastery was transferred to the Olivetans, who began a major reconstruction. Reconstruction of the church was begun in 1533 by Vincenzo Seregni, and completed in 1568 by Pellegrino Tibaldi. The façade remains incomplete. The dome was frescoed in 1617 by Guglielmo Caccia (called "il Moncalvo"). In the chapel of St Anthony is a 1619 canvas by Daniele Crespi (Death of St Paul the hermit). In the transept on the left, is an early 17th-century cycle of canvases of the Stories of San Benedetto, by Ambrogio Figino while the right transept has an altarpiece by Camillo Procaccini. Other chapels have paintings by Pompeo Batoni and Giovanni Battista Discepoli.

During the Napoleonic wars, the site became a military hospital, and afterwards became barracks. It suffered damage during the bombardments of 1943. The monastery now houses a museum of science, the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci.

Stefano Pozzi

Stefano Pozzi (9 November 1699 (1707?) — 11 June 1768) was an Italian painter, designer, draughtsman and decorator whose career was spent largely in Rome.

Born in Rome, he was one of four artist sons of his father, an innkeeper: Rocco (1701–74) was an engraver, with whom Stefano worked on occasion; Andrea (1718–69), a carver in ivory; Giuseppe (1723–65) was also a painter. Stefano Pozzi studied in the ateliers of two best followers of Carlo Maratta, that of Andrea Procaccini, who departed for Spain in 1720, and then Agostino Masucci. In 1732 Stefano was admitted to the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon and became its Regent in 1739. In 1736, he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, the artist guild in Rome.

Pozzi worked primarily for Roman churches; for example, he painted a Blessed Niccolò Albergati for a chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore; eight ovals between the windows (c. 1736) for the church of San Silvestro al Quirinale (Titi 1763); the refectory of the Church of San Gregorio Nazareno; a Death of St Joseph (1742) for the third chapel of the Church of Santissimo Nome di Maria (Titi 1763). He frescoed a Sant'Apollinare in Gloria in the vault of the church of Sant'Apollinare alle Terme, which was rebuilt by Ferdinando Fuga and rededicated in 1748. Among the flock of artists who worked on the Chapel of Pope Sixtus V, he contributed figures of angels in the spandrels of arches (Titi 1763).

In 1744 he was summoned to Naples by Cardinal Giuseppe Spinelli to decorate the apse of the Cathedral restored by Paolo Posi; for the right wall he painted the large oil of SS Januarius and Agrippino Driving out the Saracens (still in place) and on the vault, a fresco of a choir of Angels (still in place).

In subsequent commissions, he worked with the architect Luigi Vanvitelli: in 1744 he produced two paintings for the Montemorcino monastery that Vanvitelli had built for the Olivetans at Perugia (now the Palazzo dell’ Università): an Annunciation (still in place) and the Blessed Bernardino Tolomei among the Plague-stricken (Santa Francesca Romana in Rome). In Perugia he frescoed the sacristy of the Church of il Gesù.

For the library that Vanvitelli designed for the Palazzo Sciarra–Colonna in Rome, Pozzi painted allegories of the Signs of the Zodiac, and in Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj he decorated the Saletto degli Specchi.Architects Vincenzo Brenna, Giacomo Quarenghi and painter Antonio Cavallucci trained in classic painting at Pozzi workshop.

The picture [3] Madonna surrounded by angels and clouds has been recently attributed to him by Dr. Stella Rudolph.

Pozzi died in Rome in 1768.

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