The history of religious institutions is too often stereotyped as devoutly formulaic, excising or overlooking the inherent drama in most community histories. This is especially the case with Mount Angel Abbey. In its almost 140 years of existence, it has known triumph and tragedy. The sacrifices of a founding generation were joined to the devastation of two fires. An initially insular community of Swiss monks became Americanized and expanded to Canada and Mexico. Despite periods of financial crisis and the occasional scandal, the momentum of a unique monastic culture left its mark. In many ways, Mount Angel's history is the history of a pilgrim Church, a steady and transformative sign of God's kingdom on earth. Includes black-and-white photos.
Father Joel Rippinger, OSB, is a monk of Marmion Abbey. With graduate degrees in history from the University of Notre Dame and in monastic studies from the Pontifical University of Sant'Anselmo in Rome, he has written extensively on Benedictine history and spirituality for the past forty years. He is the author of The Benedictine Order in the United States: An Interpretive History (Liturgical Press, 1990). He is a long-term member of the editorial board of the American Benedictine Review and a member and past president of the American Benedictine Academy. He continues to serve as formation director and director of oblates at Marmion Abbey and as instructor and faculty/staff chaplain at Marmion Academy in Aurora, Illinois.