Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City

Mater Ecclesiae Monastery In The Vatican Gardens: All You Need To Know

The Mater Ecclesiae Monastery Vatican City is one of the Vatican’s lesser-known attractions. Established in the early nineties as a residence for the Vatican nuns, it is currently home to former pope Benedict XVI. Read on to find out more (and perhaps you’ll be able to impress your travel companions too with your knowledge)…

History of Mater Ecclesiae Monastery

Mater Ecclesiae is a latin term which refers to Mary, mother of Jesus as being the mother of the catholic church. It was the name given by John Paul II to the newly created Mater Ecclesiae monastery located within the Vatican Gardens.

Situated on the site of an old police building, the intention was to create a resident group of nuns within the Papal State. The key task – initially given to one order of nuns known as the Order of St Clare – was to support the papacy through prayer.

The orders of nuns rotated on a 5 year basis until the monastery was shut for renovation works in 2012. Shortly afterward Pope Benedict retired and took up residence in the monastery.

Mater Ecclesiae Monastery Interior

The main part of the Mater Ecclesiae Convent Vatican consisted of four stories. On the ground floor there were all of the trappings of a large working residence. Here you could find the kitchens, communal meeting rooms, an office and a dining hall.

The remaining floors in this building were dedicated bedrooms for the nuns. In an adjacent building is a chapel and a library. The decor style is simple and traditional. The Mater Ecclesiae Chapel for example is adorned with stained glass and a crucifix, no more. You may come across information on a mosaic in the Vatican called the Mater Ecclesiae – that is actually a famous mosaic located in St Peter’s Square.

Mater Ecclesiae Monastery Exterior

The building can be found within the Vatican Gardens built into the Leonine Walls. Both the main accommodation building and the chapel are rectangle in shape. There is also a kitchen garden belonging to the house.

Mater Ecclesiae Church Vatican Nuns

From the time of its inception to its closure for renovation, four orders of nuns inhabited the premises.

  • The Order of St Clare – also known as the Poor Clares – were the first residents, staying for 5 years
  • Next came the Discalced Carmelites – they also served a 5 year stint
  • The Benedictines arrived in 2004 where they remained until 2009
  • Finally the Visitandine Nuns – they were the last residents before Pope Benedict moved in

Can I Visit Pope Benedict XVI’s Residence?

The private suites are not open to the public but you can attend mass in the Chapel if you so wish, as it is open to visitors.

How to Get to Mater Ecclesiae – Mater Ecclesiae Monastery Address Within the Vatican City

Convents in Rome near Vatican Gardens

The Mater Ecclesiae is located within Vatican City. You will find it along the Viale Gregorio XVI in the Vatican Gardens.

Vatican City travel tips Tips – Taking the metro to the Vatican City is one of the easiest ways to get there. One ticket costs just €1.50 for 100 minutes of travel. From Termini station for example, take the line to Ottaviano-S. Pietro or Cipro.

There are plenty of other transport options too – check out our full public transport guide on how to get to the Vatican City for more information.

Nice Places to Stay Near the Mater Ecclesiae Convent

Residenza Paolo VI is one of the closest hotels to Vatican City. Located on Via Paolo VI number 29 the hotel offers unparalleled views over St Peter’s Square from a fabulous roof terrace. Double rooms are around €200 per night and include a free breakfast for two. You can walk to the Vatican in under 15 minutes.

Tmark Hotel Vaticano offers stylish and traditional decor a stone’s throw away from the Vatican. Situated just 500metres from Cipro metro station, the buffet breakfast gets rave reviews! Rooms are just under €200 per night in the high season.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery

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Here are some of the top questions we get asked about this convent in Rome, Vatican.

Are there other convents or monasteries in Rome near the Vatican?

Rome is home to many convents and monasteries. One of the closest to the Vatican is the Order of Saint Augustine International Monastery which is just outside the Vatican City walls.

Does Pope Benedict XVI live in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery?

Pope Benedict XVI has been living in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery since his resignation.

When was the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery built?

The building is found on the site of an old police headquarters and was completed in the early 1990s. Commissioning was in 1994.


Interested to find out more about the Vatican City? Our guides are the place to start. From how to get skip the line tickets to the best times to visit we have it all. Start by visiting our homepage to pick what information you want to study.

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