Mount Saint Joseph Abbey is a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of Strict Observance (OCSO), and was founded in 1878. The following sections discuss the history and development of monasticism, bringing us through the years to the time of the foundation of this monastery.

The origins of monasticism can be traced back to before the Christian era. In the sixth century St Benedict drew up his Rule for Monks, and it is this Rule that is followed by the community of monks at Mount Saint Joseph. Today the Cistercian way of life is followed worldwide by 200 monasteries with c.4,000 members.