The oldest Western European monastic order, and therefore parent order to all other Christian monastic orders which separated from it (for example the Cistercians), was founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480- ca. 550) at Monte Cassino in Italy in 529. Benedictine monasteries were responsible for the defense and extension of Christian culture throughout the succeeding centuries, conserving learning from ancient Greek and Rome and handing it down through the post-classical phase into the early and high Middle Ages. The Benedictines established new schools, convent libraries, scriptoria for the production of new books, churches, herbal and vegetable gardens, but also developed agriculture, roads and bridges, markets and towns all …
Classen, Albrecht. "Benedictines". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 January 2004; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1331, accessed 27 April 2015.]