Abbey of Regina Laudis
|Founder(s)||Benedict Duss, O.S.B
Mother Mary Aline Trilles de Warren, O.S.B.
The Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis was founded in 1947 by Mother Benedict Duss, O.S.B. and Mother Mary Aline Trilles de Warren, O.S.B. in Bethlehem, Connecticut. This monastic foundation was one of the first houses of contemplative Benedictine nuns in the United States. Mother Benedict and Mother Mary were both nuns of the Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre in France. Mother Benedict had grown up in Paris and studied medicine at the Sorbonne.  Until the monastery of Regina Laudis gained abbatial status, it was a dependent priory of Notre Dame de Jouarre, a 7th-century abbey northeast of Paris.
The Abbey is home to an "exquisite museum quality, 18th century Neapolitan Crèche," according to the Web site of the Town of Bethlehem.
Near the main entrance, the "Monastic Art Shop" of the Abbey is a store open to the public year round. Products include crafts and food, such as pottery, candles, woven and knitted goods, wool from the convent's sheep, granola, iron work hand-forged at the abbey blacksmith shop, cheese, honey, vinegar, herbs for seasonings, hot mustard, perfumes, skin creams, cards, books, medals and other religious art objects. The abbey also has CD recordings of its nuns performing Gregorian chant.
A Protestant industrialist by the name of Robert Leather donated to the nuns land that became the heart of its present property of 400 acres (1.6 km2). Leather was a "devout Congregationalist" who cherished a pine-covered hill in town as a place of prayer, and he wanted it held intact and in perpetuity as a sacred place.
A 1949 movie, Come to the Stable, starring Loretta Young, was based on the story of the nuns establishing the Abbey in town (a children's hospital in the movie). The movie depicts how the nuns were taken in by Bethlehem artist Lauren Ford.
"Mother ... met with many obstacles, (but) support from the Church came from many, most especially the Papal Nuncio to Paris, the future Pope John XXIII, and Cardinal Montini, who would later become Pope Paul VI," according to the Abbey's Web site. "Through a friendship of many years Pope Paul VI offered inspired wisdom and astute practical advice, suggesting from the beginning that if the new monastery was to attract the dedication of American women, they must be encouraged to have a professional basis for their contemplative life."
Since its foundation as a priory in 1947, the convent has grown to include some 37 nuns. The Monastery of Regina Laudis became an abbey in 1976. On February 10, 1976, Mother Benedict Duss, O.S.B. became the first woman religious in America to receive the abbatial blessing and thus became the first Abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis.
In the late 1960s the Abbey, in conjunction with its Jesuit spiritual adviser, Francis Prokes, formed a number of lay communities. As these communities grew through the 1970s and 1980s, the Abbey and Fr. Prokes drew the attention of the press for practices and behavior that critics considered manipulative, authoritarian, and "cultlike". The Abbey was featured on ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s West 57th and was investigated by the Vatican in the early 1990s. As a result of the investigation Prokes was forced to leave the Abbey in 1994 and other restrictions were imposed.
On May 13, 2001, Mother David Serna, O.S.B., Prioress of the Abbey, received the abbatial blessing and became the Second Abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis.
The community is known for its commitment to the arts, most notably in the performance of Gregorian Chant. Because of the acting background of Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., the Abbey now sponsors annual summer theatre productions.
Hart has worked with fellow artists, including James and Dawn Douglas, to found The Act Association, a group that performs at The Gary-The Olivia Theater, an open-air venue which seats about 200 people. The theater was built in 1982 with the help of actress Patricia Neal. Productions have included plays by Shakespeare, Sartre, opera and musical reviews. Patricia Neal and James Douglas appeared in Love Letters in 1999.
- "Mother Benedict". Abbey of Regina Laudis.
-  "The Abbey of Regina Laudis" Web page of the Town of Bethel Web site, accessed August 17, 2006.
-  "Foundation History" Web page at the Web site of the Abbey, accessed August 17, 2006
- Tomasson, Robert E. (1987-08-12). "Church Scrutinizes 3 Groups of Nuns". New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- Fox, Margalit (2005-10-10). "Mother Benedict Dies at 94; Head of a Cloistered Abbey". New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- Rourke, Mary (2005-10-05). "Lady Abbess Benedict Duss, 94; Co-Founded First Abbey for Benedictine Nuns in the U.S.". Los Angeles Times.
-  "The Gary-The Olivia Theater" Web page at the Abbey of Regina Laudis Web site, accessed August 17, 2006.