History of and Books about Lectio Divina

History of Lectio Divina


Lectio Divina is an ancient practice from the Christian contemplative heritage.  It was made a regular practice in monasteries by the time of St Benedict in the 6th century.  The classical practice of Lectio Divina can be divided into two forms:  monastic and scholastic.  The scholastic form was developed in the Middle Ages and divides the process of Lectio into four hierarchical consecutive steps: reading, reflecting, responding and resting.  The monastic form of Lectio is a more ancient method in which reading, reflecting, responding and resting are experienced as moments rather than steps in a process.  In this form, the interaction among the moments is dynamic and the movement through the moments follows the spontaneous prompting of the Holy Spirit.  To allow for this sponteneity, Lectio was originally practiced in private. 

The current resurgence of Lectio Divina owes much to the reformation of the Second Vatican Council and the revival of the contemplative dimension of Christianity.  Today, Lectio is practiced in monasteries and by lay people around the world.  New practices have also been inspired by the ancient practice of Lectio, such as praying the scriptures.  Thou the method of Lectio has taken slightly different forms throughout the centuries, the purpose has remained the same: to enter into a conversation with God and cultivate the gift of contemplation.

The Centering Prayer Network Australia is grateful to Contemplative Outreach Ltd for this brief history of Lectio Divina. 


  • Aigner, Jill, OSB. Foundations Last Forever: Lectio Divina, A Mode of Scripture Prayer
  • Arico, Carl. 1997. A Taste of Silence, Ch. 5. New York: Continuum.
  • Bianchi, Enzo. 1998. Praying the Word. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications.
  • Casey, Michael. 1995. Sacred Reading. Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph.
  • Dumm, Demetrius. 1987. Flowers in the Desert, A Spirituality of the Bible. New York: Paulist Press.
  • de Wahl, Esther. 1995. A Life-Giving Way, A Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 47-48. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.
  • Earle, Mary C. 2003. Broken body, Healing Spirit: Lectio Divina and Living with Illness. New York: Morehouse Publishing.
  • Guenther, Margaret. 1998. The Practice of Prayer. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications,
  • Hall, Thelma. 1988. Too Deep for Words. New York: Paulist Press.
  • Keating, Thomas. 1994. Intimacy with God, Ch. 5. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
  • Magrassi, Mariano. 1998. Praying the Bible, an Introduction to Lectio Divina. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Masini, Mario. 1998. An Ancient Prayer that is ever new: Lectio Divina. New York: Alba House.
  • Merton, Thomas. 1986. Opening the Bible. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
  • Miller, Robert J. 2000. Falling Into Faith: Lectio Divina Series. Franklin, WI: Sheed And Ward.
  • Mulholland, Jr. M. Robert. 2000. Shaped by the Word, Revised Edition. Nashville: The Upper Room Books.
  • Pennington, Basil. 1998. Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scriptures. New York: The Crosswords Press.
  • Salvail, Ghislaine. 1996. At the Crossroads of the Scriptures: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. Boston: Pauline Books and Media.
  • Smith, Martin. 1989. The Word is Very Near You, A Guide to Praying with Scripture. MA: Cowley Publications.
  • Stewart, Columba. 1998. Prayer and Community. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books.
  • 1996. Praying with the Community, Vest, Norvene, Gathered in the Word, Praying the Scripture in Small Groups. Nashville: The Upper Room Books.
  • 1998. The Ancient Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina. Contemplative Outreach News (Winter): vol. 12, no. 2.
  • 2001. Fire in the Deep. Franklin, WI: Sheed and Ward.
  • Cherish Christ Above All, the Bible in the Rule of St. Benedict. NewYork: Paulist Press.


  • Lectio Divina Practice by Fr. Carl Arico in the series The Practice that Brings the Fruits of Centering Prayer into Daily Life published by Contemplative Outreach
The above texts are recommended by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.