Pray and work

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Relief with the motto ORA ET LABORA (highlighted in gold)
The city seal of Toledo, Ohio has been used since 1873 and shows the sun rising at Fort Industry with the phrase LABORARE – EST – ORARE
The motto ORA ET LABORA on the emblem of Billimoria High School in Panchgani, India

The phrase pray and work (or 'pray and labor'; Latin: ora et labora) refers to the Catholic monastic practice of working and praying, generally associated with its use in the Rule of Saint Benedict.[1]

Benedict viewed prayer and work as partners, and believed in combining contemplation with action.[2] The phrase expresses the need to balance prayer and work in monastic settings and has been used in many religious communities from the Middle Ages onwards.

Some orders (such as the Cistercians) applied the concept directly to farm work and became an element in the movement towards land reclamation from rot and agricultural development in Western Europe. Other orders such as the Humiliati applied the concept to the production of woolen cloth using wheels in the period prior to the Industrial Revolution.


In 1818, Dalhousie University was established in Nova Scotia, adopting the motto of Ora et Labora in 1870. This is also the motto of Clan Ramsay, of which the Earl of Dalhousie is the leader.[3]

In 1857, near the village of present-day Bay Port, Michigan, German Christians led by Emil Baur founded the religious community called the Christian German Agricultural and Benevolent Society of Ora et Labora or Ora Labora. Designed along the lines of religious, socialist, and communal living, 288 colonists created the town near the shores of Wild Fowl Bay. The community operated where members could combine work with prayer, and live according to the Methodist Church Discipline, but Baur also planned to build institutions of learning for the diffusion of literary, scientific, and religious information, and homes for the care of widows and orphans. However due to the draft law of the American Civil the younger men were forced to go into military service, and the colony was without funds to hire substitutes for them. By 1867 only 14 families remained when the colony disbanded.[4]

The city seal for Toledo, Ohio created and used since 1873 shows the sun rising at Fort Industry where Swan Creek joins the Maumee River. The seal was replaced with a simple block form of the fort on Jan. 11, 1909 and reverted to the 1873 seal in 1994. What never changed on the seal was the inscription “LABORARE – EST – ORARE” meaning “To work is to pray” which is still used to this day.

In 1874, Wesley College, Colombo, a high school in Sri Lanka, was founded by Methodist missionaries. It has been using "Ora Et Labora" as the motto since its inception.

It is also the motto of Sacred Heart Anglo Indian Girls Higher Secondary School in Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India, which was founded in 1894 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny.

It is also the motto of Billimoria High School, in Panchagani, District North Satara, Maharashtra, India. Founded in 1908 as the Parsi High School by the late Mr Naoroji Billimoria. His sons, Mr Burjorji N Billimoria and Mr Rustomji N Billimoria were the joint principals till the late 1990s, when the school was sold. But the name and the Motto still remain. (Added to this page by Yazdie N Panthaki, Class of 1973)

In 1929, the religious Zionist organisation Bnei Akiva (Children of Akiva) was founded in Jerusalem Israel with the motto of torah v'avodah, meaning "Torah and work".

At the entrance of the LEGO headquarters in Billund, Denmark, there is a plate on the right hand side with the picture of the founder, and the inscription: "ora et labora".[5]

Ora et labora is the motto of Melbourne Grammar School in Australia. It is also the current motto of St. Joseph's Institution, an independent school in Singapore. It is also carved into the entry of The King's School Chapel, Parramatta.

It is also the motto of Infant Jesus Anglo Indian High School (IJHS), Tangasseri, Kollam, Kerala, India.

It is also the motto of the Chapel of St Olav in Sandefjord in Norway.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anselm Grün, Linda M. Maloney (2006). Benedict of Nursia 2006 ISBN 0-8146-2910-5 page 30
  2. ^ Lonni Collins Pratt, Daniel Homan (2001). Benedict's Way: An Ancient Monk's Insights for a Balanced Life ISBN 0-8294-1787-7 page 47
  3. ^ Waite, P. (1997). Lives of Dalhousie University: 1925–1980, The Old College Transformed. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0-7735-1644-1. page 98.
  4. ^ Evet, Paul (1956). Thumbs Up. A Collection of Historical Essays on Huron County and the Thumb, by Members of an Off- campus Class in English. Mt. Pleasant, MI: Central Michigan College of Education. Central Michigan University.
  5. ^ Laurène Champalle (December 21, 2006). "Comment Lego s'est reconstruit". La Tribune. Archived from the original on March 25, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.


  • Ora et labora: prayer and action as cooperation with God by Robert Field, University of the South, 1993

External link[edit]