The Order of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities that observe the Rule of Saint Benedict. Within the order, each individual community (which may be a monastery, a priory or abbey) maintains its own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests. Today the terms 'Order of Saint Benedict' and 'Benedictine Order' are also used frequently to refer to the total of the independent Benedictine abbeys, thereby giving the wrong impression of a 'generalate' or 'motherhouse' with jurisdiction over dependent communities. The Benedictine Confederation, which was established in 1883 by Pope Leo XIII in his brief Summum semper, is the international governing body of the order, headed by the Abbot Primate. Members of the order generally use the initials O.S.B. after their name.
Contributions by Gerald Farinas, Atlant, and Student7.