After a thousand years and in a new world, this volume assembles, for the first time in any language, all the key foundational writings of the oldest eremitic order of the Western Church. The earliest of these, Saint Bruno-Boniface’s The Life of the Five Hermit Brothers, doubles as one of the most important documents of early Polish history. The two most celebrated works of "the Monitor of Popes", Doctor of the Church Saint Peter Damian, are included: The Life of Blessed Romuald and Dominus Vobiscum. The latter has a theme particularly dear to contemporary theologians: the Church as communion. Finally, the earliest statutes of the Order, namely the Constitutions and Rule of Blessed Rudolf, premiere here in English.
The Jacob’s ladder (Gen. 28:12) in the background of the painting of Saint Romuald by Sacchi on the front cover was inspired by the account related on page 236. In the collect for the liturgy of Saint Romuald’s Day, we pray that we may deny ourselves in order to follow Christ in the way of the cross, and so go up with Him into the glory of the Kingdom. May reading this book renew your inner strength to make that same ascent "with wings as the eagles" (Isa. 40:31).
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This volume is essential for Camaldolese but, for lay persons, it is not an easy read. It is written from a most ancient and deeply reverential perspective so that St. Romuald, rather than being understood as a human being, is portrayed as a spiritual giant whose legend has been embellished over the centuries. The value of the book becomes clear when the focus is on the outstanding facts of Romuald's life. He is depicted as a careless youth given to pleasure until his conversion because of his father's crime. He enters religious life and, as a result of his intense devotion, his confreres attempt to kill him. At one point, he is accused of carnal impurity and endures the consequences of that accusation. One episode of his life is especially enlightening regarding the workings of divine providence. When he became determined to be martyred in Hungary, he became seriously ill during each attempt but then was instantly cured each time he gave up. Above all, this book depicts a man literally on fire with love of God and with a desire to establish hermitages everywhere on earth. The book also provides insights into developments and changes within the Camaldolese Order.