From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict around 529.
Used as a noun, the term denotes their members, the Benedictines. By extension it is sometimes applied to other adherents of the Benedictine spirituality.
During the subsequent centuries many more Benedictine communities were founded, not only for monks but also for nuns, first throughout Europe and eventually also other areas of the world. This led to the formation in modern times of the Order of St Benedict. In addition to those autonomous Benedictine communities, a number of independent monastic orders were founded on the rule of St Benedict, and so are also Benedictines in that sense. Such orders include the Congregation of Cluny, the Cistercians, and the Trappists. Benedictine communities are primarily found in the Catholic Church but several Benedictine communities exist within other Christian communities, though small in number.
The current Abbot Primate of the global Benedictine Confederation of the Order of St. Benedict is a German Benedictine, Notker Wolf. The center of the Confederation is Sant'Anselmo in Rome where every four years the abbots of the Benedictine order from around the world meet for a Confederation Congress. In 2000, there were 8,182 Benedictine monks, 7,179 nuns, and 10,000 "Active Benedictine Sisters."