Ottilien Congregation

View of St. Ottilien Archabbey

The Ottilien Congregation, often also known as the St. Ottilien Congregation and as the Missionary Benedictines, is a congregation of religious houses within the Benedictine Confederation, the aim of which is to combine the Benedictine way of life with activity in the mission field.


The congregation was founded in 1884, incorporating the houses founded on the vision of Andreas Amrhein, a monk of Beuron Archabbey, who, finding it impossible to realise the vision of the Benedictine mission within Beuron, left to begin an independent community. He set up a house in 1884 at Reichenbach am Regen in the Oberpfalz, but the site was too remote, and in 1887 the community moved to what is now St. Ottilien Archabbey in Oberbayern.

In the same year the first missionary monks left for the Apostolic Prefecture of South Zanzibar in German East Africa, a territory which now comprises several dioceses in Tanzania, which the monks serve from the abbeys of Peramiho, Ndanda and Hanga and several smaller houses. Similarly the Congregation's Zululand mission (begun in 1921) is now an independent monastery serving the diocese it once helped to create.

In 1908 an Asian mission field was added, comprising two abbeys in North Korea and China, which after the end of World War II were re-constituted as Waegwan Abbey in South Korea. There is also a priory at Digos on Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

Further monasteries were established in North and South America after World War I, and more recently several new foundations have been made in the Third World, mostly in Africa.

The Archabbot of St. Ottilien is ex officio president of the congregation.

Women religious have formed part of the Missionary Benedictine enterprise from the beginning, based at first at St. Ottilien but shortly after at their own house nearby. They have developed independently and today form the Congregation of Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing.


As a Congregation founded with the purpose of evangelizing German East Africa, it is no great surprise that the vast majority of early monks were Germans. As the Church grew in Africa and Asia, the Missionary Benedictines eventually began to accept indigenous vocations. Though the Congregation's European houses currently possess the greatest number of solemnly professed monks, these will soon be outnumbered by the African monasteries.

As of March 17, 2015, the Benedictine Missionaries feature four houses with monastic populations in excess of one hundred monks:

REGION Solemnly Professed Temporally Professed Novices Oblates Total
AFRICA 322 88 57 0 467
AMERICA 22 1 3 1 27
ASIA 147 15 9 1 172
EUROPE 319 8 5 4 336
TOTAL 810 112 74 6 1002

List of member houses and dependencies

Locations of independent (green), dependent (light green), and historic (white) monasteries of the Congregation of Missionary Benedictines of Saint Ottilien






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