That Mysterious Man

Author of Sancta Sophia or Holy Wisdom


1575 – Born, Abergavenny, Wales; brought up as Protestant
1590 – Oxford; then law in London (Inner Temple)
1598 – Recorder of Abergavenny
1600 – Experienced escape from death on a bridge
1603 – Became Catholic
1605 – Became monk at St Justina, Padua (Italy)
1606 – Seriously ill after some months: returned to England before profession
1607 – Took vows London, with English monks of the Italian Congregation
1613 – Ordained priest at Rheims
1613-24 – Missioner in England, then collecting historical material which edited by CLement Reyner) formed Apostolatus Benedictinorum in Anglia (1626)
1624-33 – Cambrai (NE France) with the English Benedictine nuns
1633-38 – At Douai, St Gregory’s
1638 – Returned to English Mission
1641 – Died in London (9 August). Buried in Holborn, London (St Andrew’s)

The four Lives:
1643 – Pritchard
1646 – Salvin
1650 – Cary
1656 – Cressy

1657 – Sancta Sophia published by Cressy
Later editions: 1857 – 1876 – 1910 – 1964 – 1972

Baker family house, Abergavenny


iew from the family home

DAVID AUGUSTINE BAKER (1575-1641) was one of the earliest members of the newly restored English Benedictine Congregation. He has three claims on our attention.
He supervised the link between Sigebert Buckley of Westminster and the old English Congregation and the new English monks from Musee du Vatican - Rome Italie.
He collected a huge amount of historical material to support the claim (against newer orders) that the conversion of England was from the beginning essentially Benedictine.
He explored deep into the spiritual world of prayer, teaching many, especially among our nuns, the fruitful realities of the life of prayer. In this his influence is incalculable, and is still with us today. Apart from the language in which it is set out, which is, not unreasonably, a little dated, it is a spirituality which sits well on the more recent columns of the church’s inner structure. It grew in the Counter- Reformation world, but has older roots and survives when some of the more enthusiastic accretions of the seventeenth century have largely evaporated.
It is helpful first to be clear about the pattern of his life. His parents were what are known as church-papists, as were many of the survivors of Queen Mary’s time. They were so named because although they outwardly conformed, they remained Catholic at heart, and often returned to full practice if a chance arose. He was born as David Baker 9 December 1575 in Abergavenny (since 1858 a Benedictine parish: but people in his childhood would easily remember their parish church when it was the priory church of Benedictine monks).

Baker’s father was a lawyer, and young David was trained for the law, and was a very highly thought of in his early practice. He was at Christ’s Hospital, then in London, and at Oxford by 1590. He studied law, first with his father and then in the Inner Temple: in 1598 he was made Recorder of Abergavenny. He had by now become almost an atheist, and as morally casual as any of his generation.

But at twenty-five he had what seemed to him a miraculous escape from death when crossing a dangerous bridge, and promised that if there were a Being who could rescue him from this peril he would devote his life to seeking him. He did; so he did. Beginning to suspect that Catholicism held the key, he was received in 1603, and while in London met and assisted with his legal knowledge some of the monks from Italy, including Fr Thomas Preston (who met and looked after Buckley in 1603): with Preston he went to Italy, where Preston had become a monk, and Baker was clothed as a novice in the Abbey of St Justina in Padua on 27 May 1605, Whitsun eve and the day after St Augustine of Canterbury’s feast.

Ill health affected him all his life, so that he was able to say that in the end he perceived it as a gift and an advantage, since it prevented him from being involved in active ministry, practical affairs or constant distraction. It meant that he could not finish his novitiate, but was sent back home, which enabled him to supervise his father’s return to the faith before he died. He made his profession somewhere in London, but as a monk of the Cassinese (Italian) congregation, not Buckley’s: it was before the great link-up was made. Baker was however one of the first to join the renewed English group, and when later there were allocated to particular houses, Baker opted for St Laurence’s. effectively, you chose between St Gregory’s and St Laurence’s: at that time there was no other community.

Instead of going to Dieulouard, however, he retired to a quiet house mission at Cook Hill, Worcestershire, but this was not a success so he returned to London and lived a rather withdrawn life so as to find his way into prayer, but at the same time he made himself useful to those in need of legal help, and the better-off clients enabled him to live. At some point not known, but probably in 1613, he went to Rheims and was there ordained priest. Thus he differed somewhat from the beginning from the other monks in England, since they were priests sent to the Mission as a sort of concession, whereas he initially was trying to be a monk-prayer. His view of things differed from the start: or he is evidence that there was a tradition very early in our history other than the purely missionary.

After a visit to Abergavenny to see his family and settle property, he returned to London, lodging in Grays Inn Lane, a lawyers’ district and having many Catholics. It was at this time that he was asked to do much research in archives and libraries to assemble material later used in the book Apostolatus Benedictinorum in Anglia (1625). Though others contributed and his name is not on the title-page, the Bodleian library in Oxford lists David Baker as the author. The general thrust of this work was the large part played by the monks in the original conversion of England.

In 1624 there was an anti-Catholic outburst (when the projected marriage of Prince Charles to the Infanta of Spain collapsed in the last year of James I’s reign). Many missioners left England for a time, among them Baker, and while he was at Douai he was asked to go and help to teach the nuns at the new convent just started at Cambrai, which is now Stanbrook. He was there for nine years, and this was the most fruitful period of his life, not only in benefit to nuns (and monks) but also in the production of written guidance for others. His own prayer life at this time was not on a very high level, or at least not taking a lot of his time, and writing about it may have been in part a substitute spiritual activity. It was certainly rich in effect.

However, Baker was no exception to the rule that, if you do something good in the church, there will shortly come along someone giving good and holy reasons why things should not be done thus, and there were complaints, certainly to some extent the product of unhappiness at many nuns gathering round one director rather than another: the problem is a perennial one in all communities. After much searching, learned men pronounced his doctrine orthodox, but for peace he was asked to return to Douai. Here something similar happened, but after about five years Baker was indiscreet in allowing his annoyance at others’ criticisms to overflow into barely concealed polemics, and the President had little choice but to move him. He was sent to London again, although he was not well. This was considered at the time a bit harsh, but everyone was impressed with his obedience in simply going and settling down to a few years of rather harassed recusant life in central London. On one occasion passers- by stopped the pursuivants arresting him in a house where he was, asking them what they would have there, in a house where nobody did live nor durst (the plague being suspected of having been lately in the house) but one poor woman, who was at that time gone abroad [Prichard 284] He died on 9 August 1641, and was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew’s, Holborn. (Presumably he now lies somewhere under Holborn Viaduct)

Dom Justin McCann

Abbot Justin McCann, Master of St Benet’s Hall 1921-47, and titular Abbot of Westminster from 1947, remains the principal expert on Baker, with the uncontested claim that he is the only man since Fr Cressy to have read all two million words of Baker, whose writings are very diffuse, repetitive and largely free of organisation. Some have been published in modern editions, but for the most part we are all dependent on the work of Fr Serenus Cressy, a convert monk of St Gregory’s (1605-74) - he was once a Canon of Windsor - who produced the book Sancta Sophia.

Sancta Sophia

This is for most people the beginning and end of Baker. It is a digest of matter from nearly all Baker’s treatises, following an orderly and comprehensible pattern. Even so, the book is long and diffuse by modern standards: perhaps one should dip rather than attempt to read right through. It is moderately easy to find second-hand copies of Fr Gerard Sitwell’s editions of 1964-72. But the effort is worthwhile, for (allowing for a certain seventeenth century quality) there emerges much of the spirituality and common sense which has underpinned the English monks and nuns since Baker’s time. If we remember that his ideas were first formed at the same time as our Congregation was being re-formed (he was clothed in 1605), one can see how remarks about the dangers of too much supervision in religion, or control by superiors, throw light on the reasons which led young men to leave the Jesuit-run seminaries and seek another form of Christian life in the monasteries of Italy and Spain.

Those who are moved most by the call to missionary life and an active apostolate have been less drawn to Baker, but often they show signs, especially in later years, of having been formed under his influence: this was particularly true of those whose novitiates were made at Belmont (1859-1919), and so it is still true today, for they formed us. And because the approach which Baker shows us is rooted in an older English tradition, that of Walter Hilton, the Cloud (both worked on or editied by Baker and Cressy), Julian of Norwich &c., there is about this English spirituality something special, and an extra gift in the Church, enriching traditions which have grown elsewhere.

The Incident On The Bridge

[Allanson’s version of Pritchard]

Now it happened that returning home from a commission and his servant having ridden considerably before him, he, having his head full of business, or other thoughts, and not marking the way by a ford, by which he might pass the river, suffered his horse to conduct him by a narrow beaten path which at last brought him to the middle of a wooden foot bridge, which was large enough to pass over as you entered but growing still narrower as you proceeded, and of an extraordinary height above the water he perceived not his danger till the horse, by stopping, suddenly and trembling, gave its rider notice of the danger which he soon perceived to be no less than sudden death. To go forward or backward was impossible, and to leap into the river, which being narrower there was extremely deep and violent in its course, besides the greatness of the height seemed to him who could not swim all one as to leap into his grave. In this extreme danger, out of which neither human prudence; nor indeed any natural causes could rescue him, necessity forced him to raise his thoughts to some power and help above nature. Whereupon he made this resolution within himself, `If I escape this danger I will believe there is a God who hath more care of my life and safety than I have heed of his love and worship.’ Thus he thought, and in a moment without his perceiving how it was done, he found his horse’s head was turned the other way and himself and horse out of all danger. He never had any doubt but that his deliverance was supernatural, and it had such an influence upon him, that he not only altered his way of thinking regarding Divine Providence, but took a resolution to serve God who had so mercifully contrived his escape in the best manner he was able.


In 1842 Fr Athanasius Allanson, a monk of Ampleforth working the mission at Swinburne, Northumberland, was asked by the General Chapter of the English monks to prepare a History of the monks since 1600. When he had finished this work, he composed the Biography of the English Benedictines, completed in about 1858, but only printed in 1999.[1]

It contains 885 Lives, some short, some long. Among them is the Life of Fr Augustine Baker: here is Allanson’s text:

Welsh Origins In Abergavenny
F.Augustine or David Baker was the son of William Baker Gent by his Wife, the sister of Dr David Lewes, Judge of the Admiralty, and was born at Abergavenny in Monmouthshire on the 9th of December 1575. When he was eleven years old he was sent to Christ Church Hospital in London and in about four years after that, he became a Commoner of Broadgates Hall at Oxford; at which time he was observed to be naturally of a good disposition, but falling into ill company he acquired many vicious habits and committed many youthful disorders and gradually fell to an utter neglect of all duties of piety and religion: yet there remained in him a natural modesty whereby he was restrained from a scandalous impudence in sin. His Father who was Steward to Lord Abergavenny had a plentiful fortune: his eldest son Richard was a Counsellor at Law and he had intended his son David for the Church, but difficulties arising at the time when he should have entered upon a rich Benefice, his Father altered his resolution and sent for him home after he had been in the University two years to study the Law under his elder Brother. He continued four years with his Father and was then sent to the Middle Temple when he was twenty one years of age, where he applied himself with great attention and diligence to the study of the Law; so that many eminent persons judged him in a probable way by his more than ordinary capacity and skill of arriving ultimately at high preferment in his gainful profession. It was at this time that he began to entertain doubts concerning Divine Providence and the existence of a Supreme Being, to which his ill morals had in a great measure contributed, and which were not entirely removed until that Providence he doubted of came to his assistance in a very extraordinary manner.

Memorial to Baker’s brother Richard & family tomb at Abergavenny, Wales

After the death of his brother Richard, his Father was desirous of his company in the country, that he might be an assistant to him in his business which was to keep courts for him under Lord Abergavenny; and to give him full employment, he procured him to be made the Recorder of Abergavenny.

Incident At Monnow Bridge

Now it happened that returning home from a commission and his servant having ridden considerably before him, he, having his head full of business, or other thoughts, and not marking the way by a ford, by which he might pass the river, suffered his horse to conduct him by a narrow beaten path which at last brought him to the middle of a wooden foot bridge, which was large enough to pass over as you entered but growing still narrower as you proceeded, and of an extraordinary height above the water he perceived not his danger till the horse, by stopping, suddenly and trembling, gave its rider notice of the danger which he soon perceived to be no less than sudden death. To go forward or backward was impossible, and to leap into the river, which being narrower there was extremely deep and violent in its course, besides the greatness of the height seemed to him who could not swim all one as to leap into his grave. In this extreme danger, out of which neither human prudence; nor indeed any natural causes could rescue him, necessity forced him to raise his thoughts to some power and help above nature. Whereupon he made this resolution within himself, `If I escape this danger I will believe there is a God who hath more care of my life and safety than I have heed of his love and worship.’ Thus he thought, and in a moment without his perceiving how it was done, he found his horse’s head was turned the other way and himself and horse out of all danger. He never had any doubt but that his deliverance was supernatural, and it had such an influence upon him, that he not only altered his way of thinking regarding Divine Providence, but took a resolution to serve God who had so mercifully contrived his escape in the best manner he was able.


He had formerly been accustomed to read Law Books and others which could make no impression upon him in regard of religion; but now he frequently entertained himself with books of morality, and sometimes considered what was said on both sides the question in regards of the differences between the Catholic Church and others separated from her. He had also the curiosity to hear and enter into conferences upon the subject, till at length by the conversation he had with a learned Missioner in those parts, he was reconciled and became a member of the Catholic Church and at the same time he became quite another man as to his morals as appeared from his discourse and behaviour. From the time of his reconciliation he had signified to his Confessor his desire of retiring wholly from the world, and requested to be put in a way how to effect it. The Priest told him there were several Regulars in London, who were capable of assisting him as they were persons who by their profession had entirely renounced the world. Upon this he took a journey to London, where he met with some Benedictine Fathers of the Cassin Congregation, by whom he was encouraged in his good design, and as one of them was on the point of returning into Italy upon the affairs of his order, he readily accepted of the offer of accompanying him. On their arrival at Dover he wrote a letter to his Father to inform him of his departure out of England, without giving him any further notice of his intention than that he went to travel. .

Church of S.Giustina, PaduaHaving crossed the sea, they made the rest of their journey to Padua, where he was received and admitted to the holy Habit of religion by the Abbot of St Justina on the 27 of May 1605, being then about thirty years of age and took the name of Augustine in religion

Church of S.Giustina, Padua

It was during his Noviceship that he discovered the great affection he had for mental prayer in which he improved himself daily and carried it on to a great height during his whole life. Before the time of his Noviceship was expired, he was visited with a tedious fit of sickness, which, as the Physicians gave their opinion, was occasioned by the difference of the climate and for want of exercise, and that nothing could reestablish him in his health but the air of his own native country. Upon this he was permitted to return to England without giving up his religion Habit until his health was recruited. He performed his journey with unusual expedition, a thing he often wondered at, not being able to give any reasonable account of it: he appeared as if impelled on by certain blind impulse which waged him on so forcibly that he never ceased posting till he came to London, where on his arrival he heard the sad news that his Father was dying. Wherefore hastening down into the country he became the happy instrument of bringing over his Father to the Church before he died and this he ever after looked upon as the providential effect of his expedition upon the road.

Having buried his Father and settled a handsome provision upon his Mother and settled his own estate as well as for the present he could, he returned to London and put himself under the charge of the Fathers of the Cassin Congregation. And fearing lest he might be interrupted with solicitations about his estate which was in land he sold it; and having done so he appears to have made his Profession in London to F Preston the Superior of the Cassin Fathers without returning to Italy and gave to him a good account of his temporals.

Baker In England

At this time F Preston, who had in 1604 obtained the sanction of his Superiors in Italy to bring about the aggregation of some of his subjects to the Abbey of Westminster, was busily engaged in this important business and he now availed himself of the services of Br Augustine in maturing his plans, who some time after the first aggregation of F Robert Sadler and F Edward Maihew by the venerable Buckley, made a transition with the leave of his Superiors into the English Congregation. Br Augustine had all along been desirous of retirement, and as he had the means of supporting himself, his Superior no longer having a call for his service permitted him to follow the bent of his inclinations.

He first occupied a private lodging with a young gentleman, the son of one of the most eminent Noblemen in the Kingdom, who having shortly before reconciled to the Catholic faith, was very anxious to lead a retired life with him. But this society did not continue long; for partly through a suspicion conceived by the Gentleman’s Father that Br Augustine was a Priest, and was the cause of his son’s continuing a Catholic, and so consequently of depriving him of a fair state intended for him, but principally through the dissatisfaction that Br Augustine had in the conversation and ways of the young Gentleman, whose fantastical way of devotion made him prognosticate would end unfortunately as it did in process of time for he ultimately became weary of his devotions and of his faith also.

Learning Prayer

Br Augustine after this retired to the house of Sir Nicholas Fortescue and seriously renewed his exercise of mental prayer. This extraordinary character in the course of his life made three several attempts upon the practice of internal prayer, which in the language of asceticism, he terms conversions. His first attempt was during his Noviceship at Padua and continued for three years. His second began about 1608 when he was residing with Sir Nicholas and lasted for twelve years. And his third began about 1620 when he was about forty five years of age. He usually devoted six or seven hours a day to mental recollection. At the beginning of his second conversion, he fell from his primitive state of contemplation and experienced great dryness and aridity in prayer, and thinking he might obtain grace by receiving Holy Orders and so be enabled to recover the degree from which he was fallen, he retired into France and at Rheims was promoted to the priesthood and then returned to England, but continued until his third conversion as tepid and indevout as he had been before his ordinations.

About 1613 when F Leander the Vicar General admitted the members of the old English Congregation to an equal participation with the Spanish in the property of the Convent of St Laurence’s at Dieuleward, he was aggregated to that Convent. On the promulgation of the Union, F Augustine was the first of all the Benedictines on the Mission who accepted of it; and being asked by a friend what had made him so forward, all the answer he gave was a Domino egressus est sermo &c the matter hath proceeded from our Lord neither could I do anything beyond or against his will.

Historical Research

F Augustine about the beginning of his third conversion in 1620 was settled in the west country by F Robert Sadler the Provincial of Canterbury, in the house of one Philip Fursden a resident gentleman in that part where he would have all conveniences for his design of recollection. The year following his Superior called him up to London, where he lived privately employing his time in writing several Treatises on mystic ways and subjects. But it was not long before his Superiors employed him in a more important way. The new Congregation of his Order had been attacked by F John Barnes and F Francis Walgrave, who denied the existence of an English Benedictine Congregation before the Reformation, and who maintained that the English Benedictines had been subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the Cluny Congregation, so that he was commissioned to visit various Libraries and search the records of the Tower and other Public Depositaries of ancient manuscripts, to disprove the statements of his alienated brethren and to establish the credit and former independence of the Benedictines. During two years or more he devoted himself to these literary pursuits, and with incredible pains and at the cost of almost two hundred pounds which he willing sustained himself, he furnished sufficient matter for the two first Tracts of the work, which was afterwards published under the title of Reyner’s Apostolatus. Soon after his labours were completed, President Barlow, considering his abstracted life disqualified him for the Mission, and intending to employ him in compiling an Ecclesiastical History, for which he knew he was plentifully provided with materials collected out of ancient Records, kindly invited him over to Doway in 1624.

Baker At Cambrai

At first he did not accept of the offer, but afterwards fearing trouble from a proclamation set forth for the banishment of Priests and being urged on by an interior impulse to cross the seas, he proceeded to the President at Doway; but not finding the place suitable to his mind, he went to the new Convent which was beginning at Cambray and was made the Spiritual Director to the Benedictines Nuns, although he was never appointed their regular Vicar. He now devoted himself to prayer and contemplation, giving up his leisure hours to the instruction of the nuns, to the composition of his ascetic works, and to the compilation of an Ecclesiastical History which filled six volumes in folio. At the Chapter of 1629 F Francis Hull, the new appointed Vicar to the Nuns put in his claim to be a great master of spirituality. His system did not coincide with F Augustine’s and a controversy arose between them, which continued during the quadriennium. Both Fathers attended the following Chapter; and F Francis Hull brought the subject of F Augustine’s writings and method of prayer under discussion as containing some hidden danger in them. They were both ordered to frame a brief account of the manner which each of them respectively pursued in conducting religious souls tending to contemplation. As soon as these were examined the writing of F Augustine’s unanimously approved and the following form was subscribed by both parties.

Both of them do accord that the divine calls inspirations, inactions, influences of God’s grace, joined with the humble frequent use of the sacraments of Christ, are the most noble and sublime means to spirituality; without which to endeavour after contemplation and perfection, were to fly without wings. And that those calls, or holy lights and inspirations are always to be regarded, but chiefly in prayer and conversation with God. And that whosoever neglecteth his interior not hearkening to the interior voice or allocution of the Holy Ghost, nor labouring to direct his external observances, to taste God more sweetly, to see him more clearly, to love him more ardently, and enjoy him more intimately in his soul and spirit, can never attain to purity of intention, and the spirit of contemplation, though he be never so exact in external observances, and in austere corporal mortifications &c.

F Augustine sat in this chapter as Definitor and having one day in consequence of long consultations lost the opportunity of saying Mass, he was much afflicted, affirming it was the first time he had done so for five or six years; and to prevent a similar occurrence, he obtained leave to be absent from the morning consultations whenever his presence was not absolutely necessary. As his abstracted life disqualified him from discharging the duties of a Chapterman he ceased from this time to be a Capitular Member of the Body.

Health Problems

After he had spent nine years with the Nuns to the great comfort of Mother Catharine Gascoigne the Abbess, who was a faithful follower of his system of prayer, he was removed by President Bagshaw to the Convent of St Gregory’s at Doway, where he remained five years devoting his time to prayer and to his writings. His constitution was nearly worn out with corporal austerities and his feeble frame was nearly exhausted.

Cressy writing of his mode of life in about 1620 tells us Weldon I 286 The state of his corporal constitution was then such that though his stomach could digest no more than would a child of five years old (so that if he had taken more, as he once ventured to do, he was, and would have been in danger of dying of a surfeit) notwithstanding at the same time his appetite was very eager and strong, answerable to a person of full age as he then was. In such equality of temper coming daily to a very plentiful and well furnished table with a most greedy and almost insatiable appetite, the difficulty he suffered in abstaining can scarce be imagined. The which difficulty increased through the grace of God, he was enabled to resist and overcome the temptation; so that daily he rose from the table with a raging appetite and desire to eat more, which he would not, and indeed durst not do for as I said before one or two small excesses committed, had almost endangered his life. Yea by the practice of mortification with prayer, he was come to such a courage and victory over sensual appetite that he was enabled besides the forementioned mortification, to produce moreover one that was voluntary; which was that he often used to deny himself those meats which were most grateful to his appetite: and betwixt each of the morsels, his custom was to make a good pause, when his stomach raged most with hunger so that he daily rose from meat more satisfied in soul then in stomach.

Back To The Mission

In his work on the Mission which he finished in 1636 he says, `I can promise no man’s not going and passing to England, save my own, whose body is so extremely decayed, that if it intended such a thing it would not suffice for it but would fail by death ere it could reach half the way.’ But notwithstanding this F Clement Reyner the President ordered him in 1638 to repair to the Mission in England. At first he represented his desire to die amongst his Brethren, and his friends attested his extreme weakness and utter inability with present danger to his life to abide the travail of such a journey especially by sea. But when Superiors still persisted in their commands, he without reply obeyed verily believing he should never be able to reach to the end of his journey. Yea when he was advised by some special friends to seek a just and necessary remedy by Appellation to higher Superiors, he made such a worthy account of obeying according to the Rule even in things impossible, that he protested if the Pope were then at Doway and would certainly for his asking free him from that obedience, he would not demand of him. He however stood the journey better than could be expected, and on his arrival in London he was placed in the family of Mr Watson who had been Surgeon to his late Majesty, whose Lady took every care of him. Being now utterly disabled from writing his only exercise was prayer, which was prolonged to a greater prolixity than ever it had been before, so that he would devote above eleven hours in the day to contemplation.

He took his last journey out of Bedfordshire to London in the company of his charitable hostess in 1641 in those troublesome times, which followed the meeting of the long parliament, when the pursuivants were busy in their search after Priests. On one occasion they were in search of him, being betrayed as was supposed by perfidious discovery of a certain person, and he was forced several times to change his lodgings, but was constantly pursued. When he had taken refuge in one of these hiding places, the officers beset the House and were ready to break open the doors, when a person in the street called out to them, bidding them be aware how they entered a house suspected with the plague in which only one woman dwelt who was then abroad; so that upon this warning, the officers fled and he was rescued from the dangers which beset him. These sudden removals and the excitement attending them brought on a distemper which in four days terminated in a pestilential fever so violent that it terminated the life of this holy man in a very short time and he died in his 66th year on the 9th of August 1641.

His Writings

[All the above mentioned] works and others amounting to fifty Treatises of his own composition, besides others compiled and translated by him amounting to as many more were preserved in 9 large tomes in folio MSS in the Monastery of the Benedictine Nuns at Cambray. Six MS tomes in folio of Ecclesiastical History and other Antiquities were collected by him out of the best Libraries and Archives having been assisted therein by the learned Camden, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Henry Spelman, John Selden and Dr Francis Godwin Bishop of Hereford to all of whom he was familiarly known. He wrote also two Treatises of the Laws of England while he was of the Middle Temple, which after his death being left in the hands of his kinsman F Leander Pritchard were ultimately destroyed at the pillaging of the house and chapel of St John’s in Clerkenwell when King James II left England in December 1688.

I shall conclude this life by giving F Augustine Baker’s own opinion on his own spirituality a little before his death. `A certain religious priest, who was a person of note in the Mission, desired earnestly to know wherein consisted the difference between the spirituality, which Mr Baker taught, and the spirituality of others, who opposed or misliked him: and this he desired to have in writing. Mr Baker being at that time not able to pen any thing himself commended that affair to one, whom he thought able to give good satisfaction. And hereupon a little short writing was drawn up and some differences signed, and the paper concluded very dispatchingly: viz That the difference was not between spirituality and spirituality but between spirituality and no spirituality, for his adversaries did neither teach any spirituality nor required any in their subjects or disciples; only they did forbid and hinder any body to withdraw themselves from under their magisterium. And as they now disliked any body that did betake themselves to Mr Baker’s instructions, so would they dislike any that should resort for spiritual information to any body else, as well as Mr Baker.’


List prepared by Dom Placid Spearritt, 1974
First published in the American Benedictine Review 25 (1974) 310-14

Further information about the treatises and the MSS is to be found in:

Peter Salvin and Serenus Cressy,
The Life of Father Augustine Baker, O.S.B., ed. J. McCann (London, 1933) pp. 160-201 (= SC)
J. McCann and H. Connolly, edd.,
Memorials of Father Augustine Baker and other documents relating to the English Benedictines, Catholic Record Society Publications 33 (1933) 274-293 (= CRS 33)
J. McCann ‘Ten more Baker MSS’,
Ampleforth Journal 63 (1958) 77-83
J. McCann ‘About Two Manuscripts’,
Ampleforth Journal 54 (1949) 103-106
H. W. Owen ‘Another Augustine Baker Manuscript’
in Dr. L. Reypens - Album, ed. A. Ampe, Studien en Tekstuitgaven vans Ons Geestelijk Erf 16 (1964) 269-280

This list follows the numbering and titles standardised by McCann in SC. It therefore includes some treatises that are no longer extant, and a few more that have not been included in the microfilm collection.

  1. A.B.C.
    A Spiritual Treatise divided into three parts and called A.B.C.
    Downside MS. 1. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, about 1677.
    The Book of Admittance.
    Ampleforth MS. 60. Scribe, D. Michael Gascoigne, about 1640.
    A Discourse concerning All Virtues in General.
    Downside MS. 23. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about l650.
    A Spiritual Alphabet for the rise of Beginners, with a Memorial for the Instructor.
    Ampleforth MS. 113: scribe, a lay-sister of Cambrai, 165o; and Downside MS. 29: scribe unknown, before 1657.
    The Relation of Fr. Balthazar Alvarez, sent to his General concerning his Prayer.
    Lille MS. 20 H. 39. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
    The Anchor of the Spirit, consisting in certain verses that are here expounded. To this is adjoined the Remedy against Temptations, written in old English by S. Richard of Hampoll the Hermit and by me made more intelligible.
    Ampleforth MS. 118. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, before 1684.
    The Apology of Fr Baker for all his works, wherein are certain points worthy of consideration by such private persons as would censure these his writings.
    Ampleforth MS. 118. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, before 1684.
    The Rhymes of the venerable Fr Augustine Baker concerning himself. The Treatise of the venerable Fr Augustine Baker concerning his own Life.
    Not included among the microfilms. Text printed in CRS 33 (1933) 3-52.
    The Secret Paths of Divine Love [translated].
    Colwich MS. 20. Scribe D. Barbara Constable, 1657.
    Translations from the works of Louis de Blois, Abbot of Liessies in Hainault (1506-66).
    Colwich MS. 36. Various scribes, 17th century.
    A Short Treatise of the Quiet of the Soul [translated].
    Colwich MS. 42. Scribe, a lay-sister of Cambrai, 1650.
  12. CLOUD
    The Cloud of Unknowing; The Epistle of Privy Counsel [commented]. Ampleforth MS. 42. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, 1677.
    Collections out of divers authors. The first Part, wholly out of Harphius.
    Colwich MS. 9. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
    Collections out of divers authors. The second part, taken out of the book called ‘Secrets Sentiers’.
    Colwich MS. 9. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
    Collections out of divers authors. The third part.
    Colwich MS. 9. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
    A Spiritual Treatise entitled Confession.
    Ampleforth MS. 143. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1645.
    Directions for Contemplation.
    The first part, the book D. British Museum, MS. Add. 11510: scribe unknown, probably before 1634; and Downside MS. 2: scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1645.
    Directions for Contemplation. The second part, the book F.
    Downside MS. 2. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1645.
    Directions for Contemplation. The third part, the book G.
    Downside MS. 2. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1645.
    Directions for Contemplation. The fourth part, the book H. Downside MS. 2. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1645.
    A Treatise de Conversione Morum.
    Downside MS. 29. Scribe unknown, before 1657.
  22. DEATH
    The book Death.
    Downside MS. 23, containing fragments from The book Death. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
  23. DICTA
    Dicta sive Sententiae sanctorum Patrum de praxi vitae perfectae.
    Downside MS. 47. Scribe, D. Augustine Baker, before 1638.
    23a. DISCOURSE
    A Spirituall Discourse.
    Rogers MS. 2. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1654. This is the MS listed as Belmont Abbey MS. 1 in CRS 33 (1933) 279. McCann in a later note about it concludes: ‘I think it very unlikely that any other person than Fr. Baker himself was the author of this treatise.’
    A Treatise of the Discretion that is to be used and held in the exercises of a spiritual life.
    Colwich MS. 5. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
  25. DOUBTS
    A Treatise of Doubts and Calls. In three parts.
    Downside MS. 8. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, 1678.
  26. E
    The Book E.
    Bibliothèque Mazarine MS. 1269. Scribe unknown, before 1634.
    Spiritual Emblems, or Short Sayings with their Expositions.
    Downside MS. 23. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
    An Enquiry about the Author of the Treatises of the Abridgement and Ladder of Perfection.
    Downside MS. 4. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, about 1i678.
    Selected Examples out of Vitae and Collationes Patrum and other Authors.
    Colwich MS. 11. Scribe, a lay-sister of Cambrai, 1653.
  30. FALL
    A Treatise of the Fall and Restitution of Man.
    Chetham’s Library MS. Mun. A. 2. 170: scribe, D. Leander Prichard, 1675; and Downside MS. 19: scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, 1678.
    3I. FITCH
    The Rule of Perfection, containing a brief and perspicuous abridgement of all the whole spiritual life reduced to this only point of the Will of God [translations].
    Colwich MSS. 8, 22, containing fragments from Fitch. Various scribes, 17th century.
    A Book consisting of Five Treatises. Downside MS. 7. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, about 1678.
    Flagellum Euchomachorum. Against the impugners, disprizers, or wilful neglectors of the exercise of mental prayer, or the due pursuit thereof.
    Downside MS. 28. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, about 1678.
    The Life and Death of Dame Margaret Gascoigne.
    Downside MS. 42. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
    Certain Devotions of Dame Margaret Gascoigne, late religious of the English Benedictine Convent of Virgins at Cambray [edited].
    Colwich MS. 18. Scribe, probably D. Bridget More, about 1650.
    Theologia Mystica [translations].
    Lille MS. 20 H. 23, a fragment of Harphius. Scribe unknown, before 1634.
  36. HILTON
    The Scale of Perfection. Letter to a Devout Man [edited]. Downside MSS 17, 18. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1644-45.
    Transcripts of monastic records. Not included among the microfilms.
    The Idiots Devotion or the Desires of Love. Divided into sixteen parts or books, every part consisting of several exercises and every exercise of several points or matters.
    Downside MS. 36. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1649.
    Directions to shew how to make use of the exercises called Idiots Devotion or the Desires of Love.
    Stonyhurst MS. A. vii, 16: scribe, D. Leander Prichard, 1638; and Gillow Library Baker MS. 1 (29A): scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1653.

The book K.
The treatise is not extant under this title, but it may be identical with that listed above as no. 23a, Discourse.
42. LAWS
Notes on the laws of England. Three volumes.
These volumes are not known to be extant.
Three letters.
Not included among the microfilms.
Concerning the Library of this House.
Colwich MS. 9, containing a fragment of Library. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
A Discourse concerning the Love of our Enemies.
Downside MS. 23. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
The Mirror of Patience and Resignation.
Downside MS. 23. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
A Treatise of the English Mission.
Part I, Downside MS. 27; Part II, Ampleforth MS. 119. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1644-45.
An Introduction or Preparative to a Treatise of the English Mission.
Downside MS. 26. Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1650.
49. MORE A
The Life and Death of Dame Gertrude More, a religious virgin of the English cloister of Benedictine nuns in the city of Cambray.
Stanbrook MS. 5 and Ampleforth MS. 125. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
50. MORE B
Confessiones Amantis.
Bodleian MS. Rawl. C. 581. Scribe unknown, about 1640. v51. ORDER
The Order of Teaching, or a Brief Calendar for the help of the memory of a spiritual instructor, expressing the points whereon he is more at large to proceed in discourse and practice with his disciple.
Gillow Library Baker MS. 1 (29A): scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1653; and Colwich MS. 9: scribe unknown, 17th century.
Our Belief and Practice in the matter of Divine Call. Our Belief concerning Spirituality and Religiosity.
Colwich MS. 4. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
A Treatise of Refection.
Not extant.
The Remains of other works, collected and put together by the author himself.
Downside MS. 22. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, about 1678.
Not extant.
Rhythmi Spirituales sive Canticorum Liber.
Ampleforth MS. 149. Scribe unknown, about 1640.
The Words of Brother Ricerius of Marchia, shewing by what means a man may by God’s grace very soon attain to the knowledge of truth and perfection [translated].
Not included among the microfilms.
A Treatise of St Richard of Hampole, being a sovereign sentence or remedy to comfort a person that is in temptation [edited].
Colwich MS. 18: scribe, probably D. Bridget More, about 165o; and Ampleforth MS. 118: scribe, D. Barbara Constable, before 1684.
59. RULE
An Exposition of the Rule of our most holy Father St Benedict.
Downside MS. 16. Scribe, D. Dunstan Hutchinson, before 1730.
Secretum sive Mysticum, containing an exposition of the book called The Cloud.
Ampleforth MSS. 43, 44. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, 1678.
A Treatise shewing one how he is to behave himself in the time of Sickness or corporal Infirmity, and how to prepare himself for Death.
Downside MS. 23. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
62. STAY
A Secure Stay in all Temptations.
Downside MS. 15. Scribe, D. Wilfrid Reeve, 1679.
A Summary of Perfection.
Gillow Library Baker MS. 1 (29A). Scribe, D. Barbara Constable, 1653.
The Sermons, etc., of John Tauler, O.P.
Part II, Ampleforth MS. 50: scribe unknown, 17th century. Part IV, Colwich MS. 13: scribe, probably D. Bridget More, before 1634. Part V, Colwich MS. 14: scribe, a lay-sister of Cambrai, 1644. Various sermons, Stanbrook MS. 23: scribe unknown, about 1650. Institutions, Colwich MS. 15: scribe, a lay-sister of Cambrai, 1643.

    Lille MS. 20 H. 39, containing a fragment of five sermons. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
    Two Statements in defence of his teaching and practice, addressed to the President of the Congregation.
    Bodleian MS. Rawl. C. 460. Scribe, D. Leander Prichard, about 1650.
    Vox Clamantis in Deserto Animae.
    Colwich MS. 4. Scribe unknown, 17th century.
  4. X.Y.Z.
    Various small pieces.
    Ampleforth MS. 60. Scribe, D. Michael Gascoigne, about 1640.
  5. (BATT)
    A Spirituall Looking-glass, written by the devout Abbot Blosius of the Order of St Benet. Transcribed by me according to the translation thereof made into English by the Rd. fa: fa: A. Batte, monke of the saide Order.
    Ampleforth MS. 86. Scribe, D. Augustine Baker, 1632. This, though not a Baker treatise, is included in the microfilm collection, since it is written in his hand.

Short History of the EBC

Central square in Padua, seen from S.Giustina, cradle of the EBC

The revival of the English Benedictines occurred soon after 1600 when Englishmen became monks in the Spanish and Italian Congregations. These had been reformed already in the fifteenth century.

A monk of Westminster Abbey, restored by Queen Mary before 1558, was still alive in England. This community consisted of monks form monasteries which had been destroyed by Henry VIII. For this somewhat complex story, see Ampleforth & its Origins ch.5 (ed McCann J, London 1952:Burns Oates).

They founded two communities: St Gregory’s at Douai in 1607 (now in France, but formerly in the Spanish Netherlands) and St Laurence’s at Dieulouard in 1608 (Lorraine). As the communities grew, they founded also St Benedict’s at St Malo, but this was closed fifty years later, since the French were not keen to have Englishmen in a Channel port.

Later were founded St Edmund’s 1615 (till 1793 in Paris, then from 1818 revived in the abandoned St Gregory’s buildings at Douai, and after 1903, driven out of France, at `Douai’ near Reading); St Adrian & Denis at Lamspringe near Hildesheim, in buildings given by the German Bursfeld Congregation. And for some three years there was another EBC monastery in Germany at Rinteln on the river Weser.

During the French Revolution the monks were expelled and the buildings taken over. The Dieulouard monks came to Ampleforth near York in 1802, and those from Douai to Downside near Bristol in 1818.

In 1625 there began a convent for nuns in Cambrai, which is now Stanbrook near Worcester, and from there in 1651 another convent was established in Paris, which is now at Colwich near Stafford.

During the nineteenth century, Belmont was founded in 1858, Fort Augustus in 1878 and Ealing in 1897, and in the present century Worth(1933), and in the USA Portsmouth (1919), Washington (1923) and St Louis (1955). The former Beuronese community at Buckfast joined the Congregation in 1960.

Most of the monks were priests, and there were only a small number of laybrothers. The main purpose of the EBC was to bring England back to the Catholic faith, because under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I the whole state and most of the people had become Protestant. For the most part the monks acted as chaplains in Catholic families. When the anti-catholic laws were relaxed between 1780 and 1829, these missions developed into parishes, but even now in the EBC people talk about `missioners’, referring to the monks who run parishes outside the monastery.

We must also take note of an additional tradition, revived by Fr Augustine Baker (d.1643). He was chaplain to the nuns at Cambrai, and laid great emphasis on contemplative and mystical prayer: This tradition still continues in the EBC, particularly among the nuns.


Résumé historique de l’ EBC

La renaissance des bénédictins anglais se passa peu de temps après 1600, moment où certains anglais devinrent moines dans les congrégations espagnoles et italiennes. Ce renouveau conserva néanmoins une lien avec les religieux de l’abbaye de Westminster.

Cette abbaye, dissoute sous la Réforme d’Henri VIII, fut restaurée durant le règne de la reine Marie en 1556. La communauté fut alors constituée de moines venant de différents monastères qui avaient été détruits par Henri VIII. De cette communauté était resté vivant un religieux, Dom Sigebert Buckley, qui maintint la continuité de la célèbre abbaye avec les moines éxilés sur le continent. (Pour une histoire plus complète consulter: Ampleforth and its Origins Ch. 5 ed. McCann J; London 1952; Burns Oates)

Les religieux anglais d’Italie et d’Espagne fondèrent par la suite deux maisons religieuses: St. Grégoire à Douai en 1607 (actuellement en France, pays-bas espagnols à l’époque) et St. Laurent à Dieulouard en 1608 (Lorraine). Comme la communauté s’accroissait toujours, ils fondèrent St. Benoit à St. Malo, maison qui fut fermée cinquante ans plus tard, parce que les Français ne voyaient pas d’un bon oeil des Anglais sur un port de la Manche. St. Edmond fut fondé plus tard en 1615 à Paris, tandis que St. Adrian et Denis fut fondé à Lamspringe à coté de Hildesheim, dans les bâtiments offerts par la congrégation allemande de Bursfeld. Il y eut aussi, trois ans durant, un autre monastère anglais en allemagne, à Rinteln sur la rivière Weser.

Pendant la Révolution Française les moines furent expulsés et les bâtiments saisis. Les moines de Dieulouard vinrent à Ampleforth à coté de York en 1802, tandis que ceux de Douai allèrent à Downside en 1818. St. Edmond fut dissout en 1793; il fut restauré en 1818 dans les bâtisses abandonnées de Douai avant d’être transféré à Douai en Angleterre (à coté de Reading) au moment des lois anti-cléricales en 1903.

Pour ce qui est de la branche féminine, un couvent de religieuses commença à Cambrai en 1625, couvent qui deviendra Stanbrook à coté de Worcester en Angleterre. De Cambrai sortit une autre fondation établie à Paris, maison qui deviendra Colwich à coté de Stafford en Angleterre.

Au dix neuvième siècle furent fondé Belmont (1858), Fort Augustus (1878) et Ealing (1897). Au vingtième, Worth vit le jour ansi que trois monastères américains: Portsmouth en 1919, Washington en 1923 et St. Louis en 1955. En 1960, la communauté de Buckfast (appartenant jadis à la congrégation de Beuron) se joignit à la Congrégation Anglaise.

Le principal but de la congrégation Anglaise fut de ramener les Anglais à la Foi Catholique. En effet, à la suite de la Réforme Anglaise sous Henri VIII et la reine Elisabeth I, la plus grande partie du pays était devenue protestante. La plupart des moines étaient donc prètres et servaient comme chapelains dans les familles catholiques. Quand les lois anti-catholiques furent atténuées entre 1780 et 1829, ces missions se développèrent pour devenir des paroisses, mais on parle toujours de nos jours de `missionnaires’ quand on se réfèrent aux moines s’occupant de paroisses.

Il faut aussi mentionner la dimension contemplative revivifiée par le Père Augustin Baker (mort en 1643). Ce religieux fut chapelain des religieuses de Cambrai et donna une grande importance à la prière contemplative et mystique. Cette tradition continue au sein de la Congrégation Anglaise spécialement chez les religieuses.


Geschichte der EBC

Das Wiederaufblühen der Englischen Benediktiner geschah kurz nach 1600 mit Engländern, die Mönche in der Spanischen und Italienischen Kongregation waren. Diese waren in fünfzehnten Jahrhundert reformiert worden

Es lebte auch noch ein Mönch von Westminster Abbey, die von der Königin Maria vor 1558 restauriert worden war. Die Gemeinschaft dieser Abtei bestand aus Mönchen von Klöstern, die von Heinrich VIII. zerstört worden waren. Für die nicht ganz einfache geschichtliche Entwicklung verweise ich auf Ampleforth & its Origins k.5 (McCann J., London 1952: Burns Oates)

Es wurden zwei Konvente gegründet: St. Gregorius in Douai 1607 (heute Frankreich, früher Spanische Niederlande) und St. Laurentius in Dieulouard 1608 (Lothringen). Als die Gemeinschaften grösser wurden, hat man 1611 das Kloster St. Benedikt in St. Malo gegründet. Fünfzig Jahre später wurde es wieder geschlossen, weil die Franzosen keine Engländer in einer Hafenstadt duldeten. Weiterhin wurden gegründet: St. Edmund 1615 (bis 1793 in Paris, danach 1818 in dem verlassenen Kloster St. Gregorius in Douai und ab 1913 nach der Vertreibung aus Frankreich in “Douai” in der Nähe von Reading); St. Adrian & Denis in Lamspringe bei Hildesheim, ein Geschenk der Bursfelder Kongregation; drei Jahre lang gab es auch ein EBC-Kloster in Rinteln an den Weser.

Während der Französischen Revolution wurden die Mönche vertrieben und die Klöster aufgehoben. Die Mönche von Dieulouard kamen 1802 nach Ampleforth bei York, die von Douai 1814 nach Downside bei Bristol.

1625 entstand ein Konvent von Benediktinerinnen in Cambrai, das heutige Stanbrook bei Worcester. Von Cambrai aus wurde 1651 ein weiterer Schwesternkonvent in Paris, das heutige Colwich bei Stafford, gegründet.

Im neunzehnten Jahrhundert wurden 1859 Belmont und 1878 Fort Augustus gegründet; in diesem Jahrhundert 1900 Ealing, 1933 Worth, und in den Vereinigten Staaten Portsmouth, Washington und St. Louis. Das ehemals Beuroner Kloster Buckfast gehört seit 1960 zur EBC.

Die meisten Mönche waren damals Priester; es gab nur wenige Laienbrüder. Die EBC sah ihre Hauptaufgabe darin, England wieder für den katholischen Glauben zurückgewinnen; denn der Staat und fast das ganze Volk waren unter Heinrich VIII. und Elizabeth I. protestantisch geworden. Zunächst waren die Priester Hausgeistliche in katholischen Familien. Nach der Aufhebung der antikatholischen Gesetzgebung 1780/1829 waren diese Missionen zu Pfarreien geworden. Noch heute spricht man in der EBC von Missionaren, wenn man die Mönche meint, die eine Pfarrei ausserhalb des Klosters verwalten.

Es muss noch auf eine weitere Tradition hingewiesen wurde, die von P. Augustinus Baker (gest.1643) neu belebt wurde. Als Hausgeistlicher der Schwestern von Cambrai legte er grossen Wert auf das meditierende Gebet und die mystische Versenkung, eine Tradition, die noch heute in den englischen Klöstern besonders in den Frauenkonventen gepflegt wird.


Il risveglio dei Benedettini inglesi è accaduto subito dopo 1600 quando uomini inglesi sono diventati monaci nelle congregazioni spagnole ed italiane. Queste si erano riformate già nel secolo quindici.

Un monaco dell’ Abbazia di Westminster, ristaurata per la regina Maria prima di 1558, era ancora vivo in Inghilterra. Questa comunità era costituta dei monaci dai monasteri che si erano distrutti da Enrico VIII. Per questa storia piuttosto complessa, vedi Ampleforth & its Origins cap. 5 (a cura di McCann J, London 1952: Burns Oates).

Stabilirono due comunità: quella di S.Gregorio a Douai nel 1607 (oggigiorno nella Francia, ma in passato nei paesi bassi spagnoli) e quella di S. Lorenzo a Dieulouard nel 1608 (Lorena). Mentre le comunità aumentavano, fondarono anche quella di S. Benedetto a St Malo, però facevano chiudere questa cinquant’ anni dopo, siccome i francesi erano poco disposti ad avere inglesi in un porto della Manica.

Più tardi, fondarono la comunità di S. Edmundo 1615 (sino a 1793 a Parigi, poi dal 1818 ripresa negli edifici abbandonati di S. Gregorio a Douai, e dopo 1903, cacciata dalla Francia, a Douai presso Reading); S. Adriano & Denis a Lamspringe presso Hildesheim, negli edifici porsi dalla congregazione tedesca di Bursfeld. Inoltre, esisteva per circa tre anni un altro monastero EBC in Germania a Rinteln sul fiume Weser.

Durante la rivoluzione francese cacciarono fuori i monaci e si impadronirono degli edifici. I monaci di Dieulouard sono venuti ad Ampleforth presso York nel 1802, e coloro da Douai a Downside presso Bristol nel 1818.

Nel 1625 si è stabilito un convento per monache a Cambrai, il attuale Stanbrook vicino a Worcester, e da qui nel 1651 si è fondato un altro convento a Parigi, il attuale Colwich presso Stafford.

Durante il secolo diciannove, si sono costituite Belmont nel 1858, Fort Augustus nel 1878 ed Ealing nel 1897, e nel attuale secolo Worth, e nei Stati Uniti Portsmouth (1919), Washington (1923) e St Louis (1955). La comunità anteriore di Beuron a Buckfast si è congiunta alla congregazione nel 1960.

La maggioranza dei monaci erano sacerdoti, e c’era solamente un piccolo numero di fratelli laici. Lo scopo principale dell’EBC era di riportare alla fede cattolica il popolo inglese, perche sotto Enrico VIII ed Elisabetta I lo stato intero e la stragrande maggioranza degli inglesi sono diventati protestanti. Per lo più i monaci facevano da capellani nelle famiglie cattoliche. Quando le leggi anticattoliche si erano rilassate tra 1780 e 1829, queste missioni sono divenute parrocchie, pero ancora adesso nell’EBC si parla di missionari, con riferimento ai monaci che dirigono parrocchie fuori del monastero.

Per giunta, dobbiamo prendere nota di una tradizione aggiuntiva, revissuta da P. Agostino Baker (m. 1643). Era capellano delle monache a Cambrai, e metteva in evidenza la preghiera contemplativa e mistica: questa tradizione continua ancora nell’EBC, particolarmente fra le monache.


El resurgimento de los Benedictinos Ingleses se realizó poco después de 1600 cuando algunos jóvenes ingleses ingresaron como monjes en las Congregaciones españolas e italianas. Estas congregaciones ya habían sido reformadas en el siglo décimo quinto.

Un monje de la Abadía de Westminster, restaurada por la Reina María antes de 1558, vivía aun en Inglaterra. Esta comunidad consistía de monjes pertenecientes a monasterios que habían sido destruidos por Enrique VIII. Pa ra más detalles sobra esta historia algo compleja, ver Ampleforth & its Origins cap.5 (ed. J.McCann, 1952, Londres: Burns Oates).

Estos monjes fundaron dos comunidades: La de San Gregorio en Douai en 1607 (actualmente ubicada en Francia, pero anteriormente en los Países Bajos Españoles) y la de San Lorenzo, en Dieulouard en 1808 en Lorena). A medida que crecieron las comunidades, fundaron también la de San Benito en San Malo, pero esta fué cerrada cincuenta años después, ya que a los franceses no les agradaba mucho tener ingleses ubicados en un puerto del Canal.

Posteriormente fueron fundadas las siguentes: St Edmund en 1615 (hasta 1793 ubicada en París, luego desde 1818 reavivada en los edificios abandonados de la abadía de San Gregorio en Douai, y después de 1903 (siendo expulsados de Francia), en `Douai’ cerca de Reading; la de San Adrián y Denis en Lamspringe cerca de Hildesheim, en edificios donados por la congregación Bursfeld de Alemania. Y durante unos tres años hubo otro monasterio de la EBC en Alemania en Rinteln sob re el río Weser.

Durante la revolución francesa los monjes fueron expulsados y los edificios expropriados. Los monjes de Dieulouard se trasladaron a Ampleforth, cerca de York, en 1802, y los de Douai, se ubicaron en Downside cerca de Bristol en 1818.

En 1625 se inició un convento para monjas en Cambrai, el cual es en la actualidad el de Stanbrook cerca de Worcester, y de allí en 1651 otro convento fue establecido en París, el cual está ahora ubicado en Colwich cerca de S tafford.

Durante el siglo diez y nueve se fundaron Belmont (e 1858), Fort Augustus (e 1878) e Ealing (e 1897), y en el siglo actual Worth, y en los Estados Unidos Portsmouth (1919), Washington (1923) y St Louis (1955). La anterior comunidad Beuronese de Buckfast se unió a le congregación en 1960.

La mayoría de los monjes eran sacerdotes y sólo habia un pequeño número de hermanos conversos. El propósito primordial de la EBC era el de reincorporar a Inglaterra a la fe Católica, ya que bajo Enrique VIII y Elizabeth I, todo el estado y la mayoría del pueblo se habián convertidos al protestantismo. La mayoría de los monjes actuaban en calidad de capellanos a familias católicas. Cuando las leyes anticatólicas fueron relajadas entre 1780 y 1829 esta misiones se desarrollaron en parroquias, pero aun en la actualidad en la EBC se habla de `misioneros’, refiriéndose a los monjes que administran parroquias fuera del monasterio.

Debemos también tomar nota de otra tradición particular, reavivada por el Padre Augustine Baker (f.1643). El era Capellán de las monjas en Cambrai, y ponía gran énfasis en la oración contemplativa y mística, e st a tradición se conserva aun en la EBC, particularmente entre las monjas.