Category Archives: Benedictines

Our Lady of Monte Vergine

OL of Monte VergineOn these U.S. shores a devotion to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Monte Vergine is unknown by most people. There are, however, those of us who know Italy and the presence of the Benedictine abbey on Monte Vergine that inspires us to use this title to Mary. From the image herewith it is difficult to grasp that the icon is quite large, with a height of over 12 feet and width of over 6 feet; it shows the Mary seated on a throne with the Infant Jesus seated on her lap. Historians call icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople” (because it is said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem) given to the Benedictine monks in 1310. King Baldwin. The image is dark, so the icon is often referred to as one of the “Black Madonnas”; a title given to several images of the Holy Virgin Mother.

The famous Benedictine sanctuary located in the village of Montevergine (of Campanian region of Italy); the “Monte Vergine” comes from the religious history going back to the pre-Christian era when there was a temple of Cybele existed. A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century. In 1119, Saint William of Vercelli founded the monastery that still exists. Saint William was a hermit who came back to his native Italy after making a pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

Saint William had the reputation for sanctity inspiring many to live in cells on the mountain. Monasticism still is present there. The first true church was constructed in 1126, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

Today, it is reported that over one-and-one-half million pilgrims yearly pay homage to Our Lady of Montevergine. The most popular day is Pentecost. There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.

Abbot Primate celebrates 75 years

Notker imposes incense 2015The Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation celebrates his 75th birthday. Abbot Notker Wolf presides in charity over the worldwide communion of Benedictines from the Aventine Hill in Rome. He was the archabbot of the St Ottilien Abbey and Congregation before his election as Primas.


Cyprian Davis, OSB, dead at 84

Cyprian Davis OSBThe monastic community of Saint Meinrad announced the death of their confrere, Father Cyprian Davis yesterday. Those of us who are Oblates of Saint Meinrad will recall with great admiration the life and work of this monk and priest of Jesus Christ. Prayers for Dom Cyprian and those who survive him. The official obituary reads:

Fr. Cyprian Davis, OSB, monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN, died on May 18, 2015, at Memorial Hospital in Jasper. He was 84 and a jubilarian of both profession and ordination.

Surviving are a cousin and a niece.

Fr. Cyprian was born in Washington, D.C., on September 9, 1930, to Clarence W. and Evelyn (Jackson) Davis, who named him Clarence John.

He studied at Saint Meinrad Seminary from 1949 to 1956. Invested as a novice monk on July 31, 1950, he professed his simple vows August 1, 1951, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1956.

Fr. Cyprian received a licentiate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in 1957, and the license and the doctorate in historical sciences from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, in 1963 and 1977, respectively.

He was professor emeritus of Church history at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, where he had begun teaching in 1963.

He also served as an archivist of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation, and of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, of which in 1968 he was a founding member. He also belonged to the American Catholic Historical Association and the Society of American Archivists.

In addition to dozens of articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia and dictionary entries, Fr. Cyprian wrote six books. But it is his 1990 work for which he will be especially remembered. The History of Black Catholics in the United States is a 350-page study of the American Black Catholic experience from the early Spanish explorations to 1970, and it is regarded as the essential study of the American Black Catholic experience.

Among the honors he received for this book were the John Gilmary Shea Award in 1990, and the Brother Joseph Davis Award in 1991. Fr. Cyprian was preparing a revised edition of this work at the time of his death.

In addition, Fr. Cyprian contributed to the second draft of Brothers and Sisters to Us, the 1979 pastoral letter on racism published by the United States Catholic bishops, and he helped write the initial draft of What We Have Seen and Heard, the 1984 pastoral letter on evangelization from the black Catholic bishops.

Coat of Arms of Abbess Lucia Kuppens

Mother Lucia Kuppens coat of armsToday (May 10, 2015), Mother Abbess Lucia received the Abbatial Blessing from the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, S.T.D., Archbishop of Hartford. She was elected as the Third Abbess of the Abbey of Regina Laudis on February 1. She is one of two Benedictine abbesses in the USA.

Present for the Mass and the monastic rite were the new Abbess’ parents, siblings, many guests of the abbey including monks and nuns from other abbeys and monasteries from the area. For the first time in the history of the abbey, the abbess received the crosier (something the founding abbess and the second abbess requested but didn’t receive). The gesture has profound meaning in the life of this great Benedictine community of women.

This image iterates the Abbess’ coat of arms.

Archbishop Blair prayed:

Almighty God and Father, you sent your only Son into the world to minister to mankind, and, as the good shepherd, to give his life for his sheep. Suppliant, we beseech you to bless and strengthen your servant Lucia, chosen to be abbess of this monastery. Grant that through the shining example of her monastic way of life, she may show herself to be what she is called; and let her know that it is her duty rather to profit her sisters than to preside over them. Therefore, under your inspiration, let her exercise the greatest solicitude; and let her always temper and arrange all things so that all, continually advancing in the love of Christ and fraternal charity, may with enlarged hearts hasten along the way of your commandments. Deign to fill her with the gift of your Spirit, O Lord, that she may be inflamed with love for your glory and the service of the Church and unceasingly impel her sisters likewise. Let her prefer nothing whatever to Christ, that when He comes on the last day, she may merit to attain your kingdom together with her sisters. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen

New Abbess of Regina Laudis

Today, began a new transition in the life of the Benedictine community of the Abbey of Regina Laudis with the election of Reverend Mother Lucia Kuppens as the Third Abbess. The new abbess succeeds Mother Abbess David Serna. An announcement is made here.

The Most Reverend Leonard Paul Blair, STD,  Archbishop of Hartford, offered Mass and presided over the election.

Mother Lucia, a Boston native, is a 1973 graduate of Connecticut College and she earned a PhD from Yale in English Literature having written a dissertation on Shakespeare’s portrayal of male and female relationships in a process of dis-integration. she entered the Abbey in 1979. Of recent time, Mother Lucia has been the community’s cellarer and the project manager of the abbey’s renovation and expansion project.

Mother Hildegard (formerly of Regina Laudis and now at the daughter house, Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island, WA) relates something Mother Lucia once said:  “Regina Laudis had something solid and deep. Its members radiated a joy that was increasingly hard to come by as the experiments of the ´60s began to fade, and idealism turned to cynicism.”

Blessings to Mother Lucia and the Benedictine nuns.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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