When do Trappist Monks Change thier Names?


I’m wondering when do Trappist monks change their names? Is this a requirement, or can they keep their legal name?




I would think that only the abbot of a particular Trappist monastery could answer your questions. There is no guarantee that all follow the exact same rules. Do bear in mind that Trappists are the "Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance."


Paul is right that the monastery you are interested in can provide you with all the info.

I believe most religious who change their names do so at the time they take vows. I don’t know if it’s a requirement among the Trappists. Among the Benedictines I know they have all changed from their baptismal names to a religious name but I don’t think there’s anything n the Rule of St. Benedict about it. (Trappists follow the same Rule so that’s why I bring it up.)


As mentioned before, it may depend on the monastery.

My aunt is a Benedictine sister, and at their monastery, the sisters have the option of taking a new name if they choose when they make their first profession. It is not a requirement, however, and there are some sisters who keep their baptismal names. My aunt kept her baptismal first name, but added a second name.

I know of another Benedictine group of sisters who don’t change their names. They used to, but they removed that part (which I think is a pity). They are a slightly more “modern” group of sisters, so… :shrug: Their male counterparts (who originated from the same area in Europe) do have the option of changing their names, as do the male counterparts of the the monastery where my aunt is.


Traditionally, most religious changed their names when they entered novitiate (not at vows). However, the American Trappists at Gethsemane got a new name as they entered. This is documented in Merton’s “Seven Storey Mountain.” Rumer Godden’s “In This House of Brede,” set in a pre-Vatican II British Benedictine Abbey for women, also had entrants get religious names upon entry, she based the book upon Stanbrook, so I would assume this used to be their practice.

The vast majority of women religious in the US do not take religious names anymore, though the more traditional communities continue the custom. I believe the same is true of men. Some, such as the Religious of the Sacred Heart (women) and Jesuits (men), never did.


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