Individuals living outside of the monastery but committing their lives to God and the Rule of St. Benedict are called oblates. The word oblate literally means "offering", a reference to early monasticism when it was common for families to send their children to monasteries as young disciples for their education. The very first oblates of St. Benedict were Placid and Maurus, sons of wealthy Roman families. They received their education under St. Benedict at Subiaco and later followed him to Montecassino, as devout and exemplar monks.



Today oblates are more commonly adults, men or women, and some are married with families. Just as each cenobite, or monk living inside the monastery, has a very important and specific role or job, the oblate has a very specific job as well: to live in the world outside the monastery, piously, to serve others, to teach others, to be faithful examples of spirituality and charity, and to adhere to a life style of prayer, obedience, and work. They make a spiritual promise to follow the Rule of St. Benedict and to live a Christian life according to the Gospel. The oblate offers their help to the Benedictine community in any way they can. The oblate has an immense understanding for how precious life is and that all lives must be respected and defended in times of need. Oblates may practice important daily prayers practices like the Lectio Divina, and generally have very close contact with a monastic community and abbot.

The importance of the oblate further shows St. Benedict's understanding of community, cooperation with those around us, and that a life of sanctity and piety can be pursued regardless of living inside or outside the monastery's walls.