Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the autonomous communities of monks founded by him in central Italy, the most notable being Monte Cassino.
Used as a noun, the term denotes their members, the Benedictines. By extension it is sometimes applied to other adherents of the Benedictine spirituality, for example, "Oblates (secular)".
During the subsequent centuries many more Benedictine communities were founded, not only for monks but also for nuns, first throughout Europe and eventually also overseas, which led to the formation, in modern times, of the so-called Order of St Benedict. In addition to those autonomous Benedictine communities, a number of independent monastic orders were founded on the rule of St Benedict and therefore are also considered Benedictines. Such orders include the Congregation of Cluny, the Cistercians, and the Trappists. Benedictine communities are primarily found in the Catholic Church but several Benedictine communities are found among other Christian communities.
The current Abbot Primate of the all global Benedictine Confederation is Notker Wolf. The center of the Confederation is Sant' Anselmo in Rome where every four years the abbots of the Benedictine order from around the world meet for a Confederation Congress.