In the absence of hotels, Benedictine monasteries welcomed travelers, fed them, and gave them a space to sleep in safety. Monastic hospitality provided safe havens and reminded the monks that although they were no longer of the world they remained very much in it.
In chapter 53 of his Rule, The Reception of Guests, St. Benedict says,
When we welcome guests we are welcoming Christ, who said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). We respect their personhood, listen with our hearts, and share with them what we have. We do not distinguish between people when we offer hospitality. In doing this, we help change what is unjust and so help build the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
In her book Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, Sister Joan Chittister of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie writes, “Hospitality means we take people into the space that is our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step toward dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.”