the members of a monastic order in the Church of Rome which is characterized by the extreme austerity of its rule. It had its origin in the Cistercian abbey of La Trappe in Normandy during the abbacy of Rancé (q.v.). This prelate had been grossly addicted to sensual pleasures, and had also evinced considerable fondness for scholarly pursuits; but his conscience became awakened, and he was transformed into an intense ascetic. He renounced all the benefices he possessed except that of La Trappe; and when he had repaired the buildings of that abbey, he undertook the restoration of its ancient discipline. He introduced a number of strict Benedictines, and became a monk himself and regular abbot. In 1675 he caused the members of the order to renew their vows, and imposed on them the additional obligation to preserve unchanged all his arrangements and rules.
This immutable rule obliges the Trappists to sleep on a bed of straw, with pillow also of straw, placed on a board and covered with a blanket. They must rise at two o'clock in the morning. Eleven hours of their day are devoted to prayers and masses, the remaining hours to hard labor performed in strict silence. Scientific pursuits are forbidden. The Trappist's thoughts are to be directed only to repentance and death. His only speech, apart from hymns and prayers, is the responsive greeting "Memento mori." He maintains a constant fast ill the plainness and frugality of his food, which is served upon a bare table. After supper and subsequent religious meditations and exercises, he labors for a time upon the grave he is to occupy after death, and then retires to rest at eight o'clock in summer and at seven in winter. The order contains lay brothers, professors, and feres donnes, i.e. temporary associates. Its garb consists of a long robe with wide sleeves of coarse grayish-white wool; a black woolen cowl with two strips a foot wide which reach down to the knee; a broad girdle of black leather, from which are suspended a rosary and a knife, symbols of devotion and toil; and wooden shoes. In the choir a dark brown mantle with sleeves, and a cowl of like color, are worn. The lay brothers wear gray habits.
Rance's immoderate austerity occasioned the death of a number of monks, and brought upon him the censure of many critics. His aversion to literary employments was also condemned, among others by Mabillon in the Traite des Etudes Alonastiques (1691). The order did not spread beyond its original limits until after the founder's death (Oct. 12, 1700), and has never become very strong in its numbers. A female branch was instituted at Clocet, France, in 1705, by princess Louise de Conde. The revolution expelled the Trappists from France, but they established themselves in Valsainte, Freibourg, Switzerland, where a monastery founded by Augustine l'Estrange (1791) was made an abbey by Pius VI, and Augustine placed at its head. Again assailed by the French and compelled to flee, the Trappists found a temporary home in Poland. They were everywhere disliked, however, and found no settled home until after the restoration of the Bourbons: in 1817, when they recovered their original abbey of La Trappe. Other stations were established, among them a female convent near London. In 1834 a papal decretal consolidated the Trappists into a Congregation des Religieux Cisterciens de N. D. de la Trappe. They. possess settlements in Algiers and North America, but are chiefly found in France. See the Allgem. Darmst. Kirchenzeitung, 1831, p. 1424; 1832, p. 90, 119; 1833, p. 1464; 183, p. 1087; Chateaubriand, Vie de Rancé (Par. 1844); Ritsert, Ordeno d. Trappisten (Darmst. 1833).
In 1851 Muard founded an order of Trappist preachers in the bishopric of Sens, who established themselves in a convent near Avallon. They observe the Trappist rule and wear the habit of the order, but by dispensation are allowed to break the vow of silence and serve the Church by preaching. See Der Kattholik. Sept. 1851, p. 239 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Helyot, Ordres Religieux, s.v.