Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Cistercians. Part One.

Text is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

The Cistercian Coat-of-Arms.
Français: De France ancien, à un écu en abîme, bandé d'or et d'azur de six pièces,
à la bordure de gueules, qui est Bourgogne ancien.
Date: 24 October 2010.
Source: This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from: Ordre cistercien.svg; France Ancient.svg; Coat of arms of Cardinal Baselios Cleemis.svg; External Ornaments of a Bishop (Church of England).svg. + work by Heralder and Katepanomegas.
Author: Lemmens, Tom.
(Wikimedia Commons)

A Cistercian is a Member of The Cistercian Order, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist (Latin: (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis), a Catholic, and also Anglican, Religious Order of Monks and Nuns. They are variously called The Bernardines, after the highly-influential Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (though the term is also used of The Franciscan Order in Poland and Lithuania), or The White Monks, in reference to the colour of the "Cuccula" or White Choir Robe worn by The Cistercians over their Habits, as opposed to the Black Cucculas worn by The Benedictine Monks.

The original emphasis of Cistercian life was on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and many Abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ales. Over the Centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of their Monasteries. A Reform Movement, seeking a simpler lifestyle, started in 17th-Century France at La Trappe Abbey, which led to development of The Order of Cistercians of The Strict Observance (OCSO), commonly called The Trappists. After that, the followers of the older pattern of life became known as The Cistercians of The Original Observance.

The term "Cistercian" (French: Cistercien), derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the village of Cîteaux, near Dijon in Eastern France. It was in this village that a group of Benedictine Monks, from the Monastery of Molesme, Founded Cîteaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely The Rule of Saint Benedict. The best known of them were Robert of Molesme, Alberic of Cîteaux, and the English Monk Stephen Harding, who were the first three Abbots. Bernard of Clairvaux entered the Monastery circa 1110, with thirty companions, and helped the rapid proliferation of The Order. By the end of the 12th-Century, the Order had spread throughout France and into England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Eastern Europe.

The Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, Wales.
Photo: Taken by en:User:MartinBiely 5 August 2004.
Date: 29 November 2004 (original upload date).
Source: Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Tintern Abbey (Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn) was Founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow,
on 9 May 1131. It is situated in the village of Tintern, in Monmouthshire, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye, which forms the border between Monmouthshire, in Wales, and Gloucestershire, in England.

It was only the second Cistercian Foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. Its ruins inspired William Wordsworth's poem "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey", and Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Tears, Idle Tears", and Allen Ginsberg's "Wales Visitation", and more than one painting by J. M. W. Turner

The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to literal observance of The Rule of Saint Benedict. Rejecting the developments that The Benedictines had undergone, the Monks tried to replicate Monastic life exactly as it had been in Saint Benedict's time; indeed, in various points, they went beyond it in austerity. The most striking feature in the reform was the return to manual labour, especially field-work, a special characteristic of Cistercian life.

Cistercian architecture is considered one of the most beautiful styles of Mediaeval Architecture. Additionally, in relation to disciplines such as agriculture, hydraulic engineering and metallurgy, The Cistercians became the main force of technological diffusion in Mediaeval Europe. The Cistercians were adversely affected in England by The Protestant Reformation, The Dissolution of The Monasteries under King Henry VIII, The French Revolution in Continental Europe, and the revolutions of the 18th-Century, but some survived and the Order recovered in the 19th-Century. In 1891, certain Abbeys formed a new Order, called Trappists (Ordo Cisterciensium Strictioris Observantiae – OCSO), which today exists as an Order distinct from The Common Observance.

one of the most influential early Cistercians.
The Initial B is from a 13th-Century illuminated Manuscript.
This File: 4 July 2005.
User: GDK.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1098, a Benedictine Abbot, Robert of Molesme, left his Monastery in Burgundy, France, with around twenty supporters, who felt that The Cluniac Communities had abandoned the rigours and simplicity of The Rule of Saint Benedict. The Monastery Church of Cluny Abbey, France, the largest in Europe, had become wealthy from rents, tithes, feudal rights and Pilgrims, who passed through Cluniac Houses on the Way of Saint James. The massive endowments, powers and responsibilities of the Cluniac Abbots had drawn them into the affairs of the Secular world, and their Monks had abandoned manual labour to Serfs, to serve as Scholars and, exclusively, "Choir Monks". On 21 March 1098, Robert of Molesme's small group acquired a plot of marshland, just South of Dijon, France, called Cîteaux (Latin: Cistercium. Cisteaux means reeds in Old French), given to them expressly for the purpose of Founding their Novum Monasterium.

Robert's followers included Alberic, a former Hermit from the nearby forest of Colan, and Stephen Harding, a member of an Anglo-Saxon noble family which had been ruined as a result of the Norman conquest of England. During the first year, the Monks set about constructing lodging areas and farming the lands of Cîteaux, making use of a nearby Chapel for Mass. In Robert's absence from Molesme Abbey, however, the Abbey had gone into decline, and Pope Urban II, a former Cluniac Monk, ordered him to return.

The remaining Monks of Cîteaux elected Alberic as their Abbot, under whose leadership the Abbey would find its grounding. Robert had been the idealist of The Order, and Alberic was their builder. Upon assuming the role of Abbot, Alberic moved the site of the fledgling Community near a brook, a short distance away from the original site. Alberic discontinued the use of Benedictine Black Garments in the Abbey and clothed the Monks in White Habits of non-dyed wool.

English: An illumination of Stephen Harding (right) presenting a model of his Church to The Blessed Virgin Mary (Municipal Library, Dijon). Cîteaux, circa 1125. At this period Cistercian illumination was the most advanced in France, but within 25 years it was abandoned altogether under the influence of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Español: La Vierge, l'abbé de Saint-Vaast et Etienne Harding, prophétie de Jérémie, vers 1125.
Deutsch: Buchmalerei: Stephen Harding (rechts) und der Abt von St-Vaast in Arras (links)
zeigen Maria Modelle ihrer Kirchen, unten deutet der Schreiber Osbert
auf ein Manuskript. Bibliotheque Municipale in Dijon.
Polski: Św. Stefan Harding (z prawej) i opat ze St-Vaast w Arras (po lewej) pokazuje modele swoich kościołów NMP; poniżej przedstawiono pisarza Osberta (Municipale Bibliotheque w Dijon).
Source: Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon.
(Wikimedia Commons)

He returned the Community to the original Benedictine ideal of manual work and Prayer, dedicated to the ideal of Charity and self sustenance. Alberic also forged an alliance with The Dukes of Burgundy, working out a deal with Duke Odo of Burgundy concerning the donation of a vineyard (Meursault) as well as stone, with which they built their Church. The Church was Consecrated and Dedicated to The Virgin Mary, on 16 November 1106, by the Bishop of Chalon-sur-Saône.

On 26 January 1108, Alberic died and was soon succeeded by Stephen Harding, the man responsible for carrying The Order into its crucial phase.

The Order was fortunate that Stephen Harding was an Abbot of extraordinary gifts, and he framed the original version of The Cistercian "Constitution" or Regulations: The Carta caritatis (Charter of Charity). Although this was revised on several occasions to meet contemporary needs, from the outset it emphasised a simple life of work, love, Prayer and self-denial.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...