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date: 22 January 2020

Cistercian monkslocked

  • Mary Berry
  • , revised by Franklyn Gellnick


The White Monks, or Cistercians, came into being at an important turning-point in the history of Western monasticism, when a wave of reform was sweeping across Europe. The founders of the order were a group of hermits living in the Forest of Colan in Burgundy. In 1075, under the leadership of St Robert, they settled at Molesme, where their way of life was similar to that of the Camaldolese. Although recruits flocked to the monastery, many of the monks grew dissatisfied with the lack of definition of the life. 21 of them, including some of the original hermits, finally left Molesme in 1098 to make a fresh start in Cîteaux, a remote and desolate spot south of Dijon. They chose a life of silence and seclusion in the exact observance of the Rule of St Benedict. To make this possible they dispensed with the embellishments that had gradually been added over the centuries. Simplicity and restraint in architecture and liturgy became the outward characteristics of the Cistercian tradition....

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Musica disciplina