The Benedictine Federation of St. Gertrude was established by the Apostolic See on April 14, 1937, when tentative approval was granted to the three founding monasteries of Sacred Heart, Yankton, South Dakota, Mount St. Benedict, Crookston, Minnesota, and Sacred Heart, Richardton, North Dakota, to found the Congregation of St. Gertrude the Great. On April 4, 1950, definitive approval was received. Though originally composed of monasteries of the Upper Midwest, the Federation now has 12 member monasteries and two affiliated ecumenical monasteries, located from the Appalachians to the West Coast and from Arkansas to British Columbia.
The member monasteries of the Federation trace their roots to Benedictine abbeys of women in Eichstätt, Bavaria, and Maria Rickenbach, Sarnen, and Melchtal in Switzerland. In response to the call of the frontier Church in North America from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, these established European monasteries of women sent missionary Benedictines to the continent to meet the needs of a growing immigrant population and of Native Americans. Adapting to the changing needs of time and place, these pioneers set down new Benedictine shoots on American soil — shoots that quickly developed into separate autonomous monasteries. This diversity of origins and traditions has brought a richness to the Federation, as member monasteries collaborate, share, support, and dialogue with one another, while faithfully continuing the feminine Benedictine tradition into the 21st century.