We Cistercians of the Strict Observance derive our manner of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a particular charism or spirit. Our history (below) will give you a sense of this charism and situate our present life in its larger context.
Our life is built upon the Rule of St. Benedict. Although written in the 5th Century, this Rule has persisted though the centuries because of its balance and discretion.
The Cistercian Order began in 1098 when St. Robert and a group of Benedictines left the Abbey of Molesme to form the "New Monastery" at Citeaux, also in France. They desired to live the Rule of St. Benedict in a more integral way. Although they had a difficult beginning, the group received a new impetus when St. Bernard and his 30 companions entered in 1113.
Already in the 12th Century, the Cistercian Order experienced a large world-wide diffusion. When St. Bernard died in 1153, the Cistercian Order with its various monasteries numbered 700 monks. Perhaps it is for this reason that many persons think that St. Bernard founded our Order, though, in reality, it was St. Robert, Aelred and Stephen whom we consider the real founders. The monastery ruins on our island - the original "Tautra Mariakloster" - date back to the year 1207.
In the 17th Century, under the guidance of its abbot, de Rancé, there was a new reform at the Abbey of La Trapp in the North. This new group eventually bore the title: Cistercians of the Strict Observance - while the original group is now called the Order of Citeaux (O.Cist). Our own community forms part of this reform group: Cistercians of the Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.), popularly known as Trappists/Trappistines.
The history of our Order from the 18th to the 21st Century is more complex. In the 1960s both before and after the Second Vatican Council, OCSO monasteries tended to focus more on the Rule of St. Benedict and the spirituality of the early Cistercian Fathers. As a result, conformity to precise usages (customs) gave way to more individual expressions in various monasteries, and especially allowed for cultural differences, while keeping to the Cistercian tradition.
In 1949, the Glencairn Trappistine nuns in Ireland sent a group of nuns to form the monastery of Wrentham in the USA, near Boston. Wrentham, in turn, founded Our Lady of the Mississippi in 1964. Then in 1999, Mississippi Abbey (with a Norwegian Sister from Wrentham and another Norwegian Sister from the community of Laval, France) founded our own community here in mid-Norway on the island of Tautra in the Trondheim Fjord.
In 2006, the foundresses of this monastery - Tautra Mariakloster - completed the permanent monastery. The property where the foundresses previously lived, some 100 meters away, became the guesthouse. Since then, our community has grown to include new members from The Netherlands, England, Poland, France, and Viet Nam, .