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President of the association




CIMBRA’s aims

A) To promote and coordinate closeness and contact between male and female religious communities in Brazil guided by the Rule and St Benedict and their respective Constitutions.

B) To promote, organise, and carry out courses, meetings, seminars, debates, encouraging the study of monastic themes and seeking to establish an effective collaboration between their members.

C) To promote exchanges with fellow organisations.


To understand CIMBRA, one has to place the monastic world in Brazil in the perspective of its historical formation and the context of the post-Vatican II Church. A year after the Benedictine Abbots’ meeting in Rome had drawn up a synthesis of principles of Benedictine monastic life, a pioneering group of Benedictine superiors dared to go beyond the limits of their monasteries and their communities and met for the first time in São Paulo, Brazil, in the São Geraldo monastery of Hungarian Benedictine monks. In this group, the presence of an Abbess from the north-east of the country, Mother Mectildes Villaça Castro, OSB, had a strong impact, given the distance travelled and the perceptions of enclosure at the time.

This was the beginning of what would later be called CIMBRA: Brazilian conference for monastic interchange. It brought together communities from different monastic families present in the country, from the oldest Benedictine establishment on the American continent in 1582, the Benedictine Congregation of Brazil, restored in the nineteenth century by the Beuron Congregation, to communities of more recent origin. Brazil also had a Cistercian monastic presence, from different monasteries of monks and nuns – Italy, Austria, and Germany – some of which were gathered together within the Brazilian Congregation of Santa Cruz. Female missionary congregations, such as that of the missionary Benedictines of Tutzing, arrived in the country in 1903, and many have developed to form two provinces today (two priories). Having received their formation at Stanbrook Abbey in England, Benedictine nuns arrived in 1911.

New monastic communities joined the pioneering group when, after the Second Vatican Council, European and North American congregations established foundations in our country. This was the case with the American Cassinese and Hungarian congregation – which came during the Second World War – and the Olivetan, Vallambrosian, and, later, a new establishment by the Camaldolese monks. Some of these monastic families included the presence of female communities.

There was a new influx of nuns with the arrival of the foundation of the Congregation de la Rainha dos Apóstolos (Queen of Apostles), the Encontro (Encounter) monastery, in the south of the country, where the French Benedictine monks of Tournai were already.

More recently, the Encontro monastery founded a Priory in Amazonia, a pioneering presence in the region, followed by two communities of nuns from the Brazilian Congregation.

Today Brazil also has male and female Trappists, monasteries which are part of the Subiaco Congregation, communities of Benedictine sisters originally from Italy, Poland, Austria, and the United States, as well as diocesan monasteries. The variety of this presence, which extends through the whole country, with a higher concentration in the south and east of Brazil, finds CIMBRA to be a place of encounter which unites all in fraternity.

From these early days of CIMBRA, we should mention the publication of the Cadernos beneditinos (Benedictine notebooks), the work of the liturgy and singing committees, with the publication of booklets of readings of patristic and other authors, which enriched the Office of Vigils. We should also note the intiatives for the updating of the Divine Office in conformation with the new directions of the Thesaurus Monasticum, a great event in the monastic world in general. The first directories of Benedictines in Brazil, the Centre for Monastic Information, the litugical Bulletin, the news Bulletin, and the beginnings of translation of monastic sources also date from this period. We should also note the help with the cost of travel to meetings and the donation of books.

Meetings of those in full vows, on a variety of themes – the twice-yearly meetings, as they are known – are CIMBRA’s normal means for enabling ongoing nourishment. Sometimes choosing themes such as prayer, work, health, the strongest periods of monasticism like the fifteenth centenary of St Benedict’s birth, and sometimes by linking the monastic reality to the steps of the Church in Latin America, after each Episcopal Conference CIMBRA looks to exercise a role

of leadership in monastic life in the country, as an interlocutor on the way. We hope in this way to accomplish our mission by rereading history, going deep into its roots and turning our eyes towards the future to be built.

The latest achievement of CIMBRA is the School of the Lord’s service, a programme for formators divided into two, twenty-day sessions a year. With these initiatives and yet others, CIMBRA, attentive to contemporary monastic movements of the different families linked by the Rule of St Benedict, constitutes one of the many constellations which today enrich the world of monasticism and for which we are always full of gratitude.

Vera Lucia Parreiras Horta, OSB

Extract from an article published in the book of the fiftieth anniversary of AIM "So far yet so near"

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