Master's rule

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The Magister rule (Regula Magistri / RM) is an anonymously written and handed down Latin monk rule that originated in the 6th century; it probably served as a model and basis for the Rule of Benedict (Regula Benedicti / RB).


The master's rule is the most detailed and extensive of the surviving Latin monastic rules. The anonymous monastic rule owes its name to the fact that each of its chapters is identified as "The Lord's answer through the Magister". Its author, its place of origin and also the exact time of its writing are unknown. The starting point for the temporal and geographical classification of the Magister's rule is the correspondence in content, structure and sometimes also wording with the Benedictine rule, which suggests a direct relationship between the two monastic rules. For a long time, the master's rule was considered younger and dependent on the Benedictine rule. The French Benedictine Augustin Genestout from Solesmes Abbey came to the conclusion in 1937/38 that the Benedictine Rule must be dependent on the Master's Rule. In the years that followed, this insight became more and more popular in research as a opinio communis . Above all, Adalbert de Vogüé , monk of the French Benedictine abbey of La Pierre-qui-vire , contributed to this with his work on the Rule of Masters and Benedicts. Nevertheless, even today some researchers are of the opinion that the Rule of Benedict was the model for the Rule of Masters.

If one assumes the priority of the master's rule and its use by the author of the Benedictine rule, it should have originated in the first quarter of the 6th century; the place of their origin would then most likely be sought in the south-east of Rome, where the Rule of Benedict was also created. However, this presupposes that the monastic rule, traditionally referred to as the Benedictine Rule, which has been handed down anonymously, is actually identical to the rule that Gregory the Great in the second book of his dialogues Benedict of Nursia , the founder and abbot of the Montecassino monastery located between Rome and Naples , attributes (chap. 36). The oldest handwritten witnesses to the master's rule are written around 600.

In addition to these two theses on a direct dependence between the two rules, the thesis of an indirect dependence is also occasionally put forward, assuming that both monastic rules go back to a common source. This common source can usually be seen in a lost monk rule that could have originated in the southern French island of Lérins monastery .


The master's rule can be broken down into the following main sections:

  • Introduction from: prologue, baptismal catechesis, declaration of the Lord's Prayer and declaration of the baptismal psalms (Ps 33 and 14)
  • RM 1: The four types of monks
  • RM 2–10: The spiritual service ( actus militiae cordis ), probably the oldest part of the RM
  • RM 11–50: Order of the monastery ( ordo monasterii )
  • RM 51–53: Order for Lent ( regula Quadragesimalis )
  • RM 54–95: Rule of the Holy Fathers ( Regula sanctorum Patrum )

The subdivision of the long, content-related section RM 11-95, which describes the organization and life of the monastic community, results from the headings and signatures with which the Magister's rule itself subdivides: "The order of the monastery begins ... "(End of RM 10)," The rule of Lent begins "(RM 51)," It closes the rule of Lent "(before RM 54) and" It closes the rule of the holy fathers "(at the end of RM 95 ).

As the extent of the master's rule shows, it contains a multitude of detailed and precise instructions for everyday monastic life. She wants to regulate everything in the monastery and in the life of the monk down to the last detail and thus barely leaves the abbot the possibility of individual situation and personal solutions. The life of the monk in the monastery of the master's rule is subject to extensive regulation and control. This earned the master's rule and its author the reputation of being petty and pedantic.


Text output, translations, comments

  • The master's rule . Introduction and translation by Karl Suso Frank, Sankt Ottilien 1989.
  • La règle du maitre. Vol. 1: Prologue - Ch. 10 . Introduction, texte, traduction et notes par Adalbert de Vogüé, 3 volumes (Sources chrétiennes 105), Paris 1964.
  • La règle du maitre. Vol. 2: Ch. 11-95 . Texts, traduction et notes par Adalbert de Vogüé, 3 volumes (Sources chrétiennes 106), Paris 1964.
  • La règle du maitre. Vol. 3: Concordance verbale du texte critique conforme à l'orthographie du manuscrit Par. Lat. 12205 , par Jean-Marie Clément, Jean Neufville et Daniel Demeslay (Sources chrétiennes 107), Paris 1965.

Secondary literature

  • Karl Suso Frank, Regula magistri , in: LThK 3 8 (1999) Sp. 977f.
  • Augustin Genestout, The Master's Rule - a worthy basis for the Rule of St. Benedicts? , in: Karl Suso Frank (ed.), Asceticism and Monasticism in the Old Church (WdF 409), Darmstadt 1975, 327–348.
  • Augustin Genestout, La Règle du Maître et la Règle de S. Benoît , in: Revue d'Ascétique et de Mystique 21 (1940) 51–112.
  • Benedict Guevin, Synopsis fontesque RM - RB (Regulae Benedicti studia Supplementa 10), St. Ottilien 1999.
  • Bernd Jaspert, The Regula Benedicti-Regula Magistri Controversy (Regulae Benedicti studia Supplementa 3), Hildesheim 1975 (2nd edition 1977).
  • Adalbert de Vogüé, Le maître, Eugippe et Saint Benoît. Recueil d'articles (Regulae Benedicti studia Supplementa 17), Hildesheim 1984.

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