In the early sixth century, when St. Benedict wrote
his Rule and gathered disciples into small
communities called monasteries, parents offered their sons as
"oblates," or gifts of God to the monks.
The word oblate comes from the
Latin oblatus, which means someone who is offered up
or dedicated to something. The boy oblates lived the monastic life
in much the same fashion as their elders, and many became
full-fledged monks as adults.
In addition to the boy oblates, others also lived in the early
Benedictine monasteries. They were generally older men who did not
wish to be monks, yet had a desire to be connected in some way with
the community life. They were also called oblates.
Over time, men and women outside the monasteries wanted to be
affiliated in some way with the work and prayer of the monks and
nuns. But these individuals were married, had family obligations
and employment. They lived in the secular world, but offered
themselves to God, dedicating their lives to the guidance of
the Rule of St. Benedict.
Over the years, as society continued to change and progress, one
thing didn't change: the value and wisdom found in the
holy Rule. Thousands of oblates worldwide continue to
find inspiration and spiritual fulfillment as they follow the
treasure of the Rule of St. Benedict.