St Romuald (c 951-1027) is one of those figures who illustrates the importance of "second founders", who add a distinctive charism of their own to combine with St Benedict's wisdom, in the Benedictine tradition.
A nobleman, he fled the world in horror after seeing his father kill someone in a duel. After some time in a monastery he left to become a hermit. After a checkered career including a failed attempt to reform an existing monastery, he formed a new Camaldolese Order that integrated the Benedictine Cluniac school, the stricter Irish ascetic tradition and Iberian monasticism. His spirituality is much more eremitic in flavour than that prescribed by the Benedictine Rule, and favours a greater focus on meditation and prayer as well as asceticism.
St Romuald's short Rule for monks says:
"Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.
If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.
And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.
Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him."
Today the Camaldolese have two distinct branches: one has its headquarters at Camaldoli and maintains a mix of monasteries and hermitages among the communities of men. The other, the Congregation of Monte Corona, was established by the Renaissance reformer, Saint Paolo Giustiniani lives solely in hermitages, usually with a very small number of monks comprising the community.
Happy feastday to all Camaldolese oblates!