Anglican Cistercians

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St Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most influential early Cistercians

The Order of Anglican Cistercians (OCist) is an Anglican uncloistered and dispersed religious Order of ordained and lay men, single, celibate, and married, who supported by their Companions endeavour to live according to the Rule of Saint Benedict as expressed in the reformed (Trappist Cistercian) tradition of Cîteaux (as set out in their Governing Documents). It is currently the main representative of the Cistercian tradition within Anglicanism.

Most other Cistercian movements within Anglicanism have closed. The Order of Cistercians of Ewell Monastery (OC) closed in 2004, although the monastery chapel is still open, and one monk remains under vows, living as a Cistercian solitary. The Order of Cistercians, Common Observance (OCCO) is no longer associated with the Anglican Communion, and is an independent and non-denominational Order.

Anglican Cistercian history[edit]

For pre-Reformation Cistercian history in the English Church, see Cistercians.

English monastic revival[edit]

The revival of religious communities within the Anglican Communion during the 18th century, and more especially the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under the influence of the Oxford Movement, saw the revival of many of the traditional monastic rules, particularly those of the Benedictine, Franciscan, and Augustinian Orders. However, there were few attempts to revive the Cistercian Rule within the Anglican communion prior to 1966, and none that lasted more than a few years.

Ewell Monastery (OC)[edit]

In 1966 the Revd Fr Aelred Arneson OC, established his Ewell Monastery Cistercian community,[1] located at West Malling in Kent, which came to receive official recognition by both the Church of England and the world-wide Cistercian Order within the Roman Catholic Church. Fr Aelred OC was the Prior throughout the life of the monastery.[2] The Abbey buildings were constructed on the site of a former farm, with an ancient Tithe Barn being developed into the community chapel. This chapel still remains after the closure of the monastery, and is a Grade II* listed building.[3] The Cistercian Rule was never popular within twentieth-century Anglicanism, and the community never numbered more than five brothers, although these were often strengthened by temporary residents at the monastery from amongst the associates of the Order. In 2004 the community shrank again leaving the Prior, Fr Aelred, as the only remaining member living under vows. The decision was taken to end the Cistercian experiment and the monastery was closed.[4] Fr Aelred continues to live the religious life as a Cistercian solitary, with the distinction of being the sole member of the worldwide Anglican Communion to be living under the strict Cistercian Rule of life, although some Anglican religious follow an adapted form of the Cistercian Rule.

Order of Cistercians, Common Observance (OCCO)[edit]

In the United States of America in 1981 a group of largely lay-led Anglicans sought to establish a Cistercian association.[5] The original aim was to establish an association of Cistercian oblates under the care of the Benedictine Order, but the experiment developed into an unauthorised Cistercian community. Having not applied for formal recognition by the Anglican authorities, the Order, now known as the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross, and still using the post-nomianls OCCO, has developed independently as a non-denominational Cistercian Order. Although its origins are in the Anglican Communion, it is now independent of any denominational structure. Its headquarters are at the Holy Cross Monastery in North Carolina, and it currently admits both First Order (professed) members and Oblates of both sexes.

Order of Anglican Cistercians (OCist)[edit]

Following the closure of Ewell Monastery in 2004, some Anglicans who had been associated with the Monastery, and others who felt an attraction to the Cistercian charism, founded the 'Anglican Cistercian Association' in 2006, with the aim of keeping Cistercian thought and devotion alive within the Anglican Communion.[6] From this Association arose the concept of a new Cistercian Order, drawing on the Cistercian heritage, the experience of Ewell, and the enthusiasm of Association members for a new form of Cistercian life within the Church.

The new Order was founded in 2010, with initial members taking first vows on 8 September 2011, in the presence of supporters, ecumenical representatives, Abbot Stuart Burns OSB of the Anglican Benedictine Mucknell Abbey (who had been appointed by the Church of England as an official consultant to the new Order), and in front of Bishop Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, who had accepted the position of Episcopal Visitor to the new Order. More recently (in 2013) it has received, and now operates with, the acknowledgement of the Anglican Communion's Advisory Council on the Relations of Bishops and Religious Communities.[7]


Men who are communicant members of the Anglican Communion, and who live within the jurisdiction of a British mainland Diocese (any Diocese in England, Wales, or Scotland) can apply for membership of the Order.[8]

People belonging to any recognized mainstream Christian denomination, who are resident in the British Isles, can become Companions and thus become closely involved in the life of the Order and its professed brothers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ History detailed here.
  2. ^ Details at this directory page.
  3. ^ Official listing status shown here.
  4. ^ Closure notice shown here.
  5. ^ Basic history is recorded here.
  6. ^ The founding of the Anglican Cistercian Association is fully reported here.
  7. ^ Order of Anglican Cistercians, in Anglican Religious Life (Current Edition, 2014-2015). ISBN 978-1-84825-464-0
  8. ^ See section headed "Residence" on this webpage.

External links[edit]