The Benedictine Sisters Of Virginia – A Historical Perspective

With the Rule of Benedict and the Gospel as their guide, the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia (BSV) follow a 1500-year-old tradition. Benedictine life is centered on three core doctrines:

  • Living in community;
  • Daily individual prayer and communal prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours; and
  • Service to others.

Since 1901, the monastery in Bristow, VA has served as the motherhouse of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. However, the sisters’ service to Catholic families in the commonwealth can be traced back to 1868—the year they came to Richmond, Virginia from St. Marys, Pennsylvania. When the Sisters first arrived in Virginia, their primary work was educating young students, and they began with teaching the children of German immigrants in Richmond. Later they expanded their educational ministry 100 miles north with the establishment of a girls’ school in Bristow.

In 1894, Sister Mary Baptista, Order of Visitation (formerly Sarah Eliot Linton), donated her family estate, Lintonsford (located in Bristow), to the Benedictine Monks for the purpose of opening two schools to serve disadvantaged children—one for boys and one for girls. The monks opened St. Joseph’s and invited the Benedictine Sisters to open and operate the girls’ school. Led by Mother Edith, several sisters left Richmond in May 1894 to establish St. Edith’s Academy, which opened that September.

St. Edith’s Academy quickly became an excellent school and served young girls in the Bristow area for 28 years. In 1922, the rural location of the school became less attractive to the parents of young women, but continued to draw young men. Adapting to the community’s needs, the Sisters relocated the girls’ school, now called Saint Gertrude High School, to Richmond. The boys’ educational needs were met when the Sisters established Linton Hall Military Academy after the Benedictine Monks left the area to attend missions elsewhere and St. Joseph’s was closed. Saint Gertrude continues to graduate well-educated and self-aware young women and is currently the only all-girls Catholic high school in Virginia. As the western end of Prince William County continued to grow and boarding schools became less popular, the Sisters recognized the need for a co-ed, Catholic day school to educate pre-K through 8th grade students, and made the changeover to Linton Hall School in 1988.

While opening and operating their own schools, the Sisters also devoted much time to help the parochial schools in both the Richmond and Arlington dioceses, starting a few schools at the Bishops’ requests and teaching in numerous others. In the late 1970s, the sisters expanded their focus beyond education, leaving the parochial schools and working in pastoral and social ministries and health services, and caring for the needs of others whenever they were called. Over the years, several corporate ministries began in response to the various needs in the Bristow area.

Here is a short video by the Arlington Catholic Herald that gives a glimpse into our life. Enjoy!

Benedictine Sisters of Virginia Logo

Community Logo

The logo of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia was designed for the 125th anniversary of the community’s founding in 1868. It is based on the medal of Saint Benedict which is common to the Benedictine Order throughout the world. In the angles formed by the arms of the Cross are the letters C.S.P.B. which signify Cross of Holy Father Benedict.

Charism Statement

We, the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, as monastic women are called to seek God in community through prayer and ministry.

This is a simple statement which drives our daily lives and reminds us to what we are committed. To seek God is our overriding ultimate goal. We strive for union with God by being imitators of Christ. As Christ called twelve apostles to be the nucleus of the Church, we believe that our community is the church in miniature where we serve under the Rule of Benedict and the Prioress in dialogue with each other. We go to God in and with community, knowing that we need human companionship for mutual support.

Our lives without prayer would be barren, thus we have daily formal and structured prayer in the Eucharist and the liturgy of the hours. We observe the liturgy of the hours three times a day as we pray the psalms together in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Besides prayer together, we enrich and broaden our communal prayer with sacred reading, meditation, and reflection in solitude.

Through our monastic profession, we are vowed to this Benedictine way of life by promising through stability to be faithful to and with this particular community. We must respect, care for, and be open to each person in community for our lifetime. Through conversion of life through the monastic way, we are faithful to whatever the community asks of us, knowing that we are working out our salvation in common, helping each other to find God. And through obedience, we daily take up the challenge to become God-centered, acting as Christ would act in a given situation, ever listening with the “ear of our heart” to the voice of God expressed in each daily encounter.

Seeking God through service or ministry is a necessary component in the life of any follower of Christ, and because a small community such as ours is not able to carry out the ministry alone, we look to our employees to share in our ministry of service, thus enabling us to reach out to the broader community to do all that we can to help those whose needs we can meet.

Philosophy Statement

The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia are a community whose cenobitic life is based on the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict.

Through our monastic profession we are called to seek God in community and to respond in prayer and ministry.

Making real our commitment to the monastic way of life and trusting in God’s inspiration,

we accept the challenge of an uncertain future and strive to be a prophetic witness of Christ’s presence in our world.

Vision Statement

Because the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia believe in the sacredness of all creation, we claim monastic stewardship as our corporate witness.

As a community of monastic women with a contemplative vision,

we are “impelled to preserve, cherish, and nurture all that is touched by the Creator’s hand.” —Of All Good Gifts

Out of our sense of reverence, hospitality, and responsibility,

we commit ourselves in a spirit of peace to conserving, using, and sharing our gifts, resources, and heritage.