The Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, which served as the retirement home for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, will soon become the residence of a group of Benedictine nuns from Argentina.

This change, announced by the Vatican on November 13, comes after the monastery stood as a silent witness to Pope Benedict XVI’s contemplative years following his resignation in 2013. Until his death on December 31, 2022, the monastery was his abode of prayer and meditation.

Pope Francis, in a move to return the monastery to its original purpose, has invited six nuns from the Benedictine Order of the Abbey of St. Scholastica of Victoria, located in Buenos Aires province, to start residing there in early January. This decision, detailed in a letter dated October 1, aims to restore the building’s role as a place of contemplative life and support the Pope’s ministry.

Established by St. John Paul II in 1994, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery was designed to house nuns of contemplative orders, serving the papacy through their dedicated prayers and solitude. Before becoming Pope Benedict’s retreat, it hosted various cloistered communities, including Poor Clare nuns, Discalced Carmelites, and Visitation nuns.

The monastery itself is partly built on the site of medieval ruins and a former gardener’s house. It includes a chapel, monastic cells, and a vegetable garden, creating an oasis of peace.

The Governorate of Vatican City State will oversee the monastery’s administration, ensuring that its legacy as a place of quiet reflection and spiritual support continues with its new residents.

This transition marks not only a new beginning for the monastery but also a continuation of its foundational mission to be a “prayerful presence in silence and solitude” within the heart of the Vatican.

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