« AnteriorContinua »
CISTERCIANS—THEIR ORIGIN AND PROGRESS.
may be pointed out where they chose even the inhospitable desert for their habitation; and, by unremitting labour, transformed that desert into a garden. To the personal example of those ancient Cistercians, the country is indebted for many improvements in all branches of cultivation and embellishment. From the model-garden and orchard of the monastery, hints were communicated and lessons taught, which found their way into every part of the country, and carried with them the principal arts of civilization and improvement. Thus, what first gave a prosperous agriculture to our own shores, is still in operation upon the barbarous islands of the Pacific, where Christian missions, religious fraternities, are busily propagating, by their own example, those domestic and mechanical arts which are the safest and best introduction to religious knowledge. Of this happy influence on the minds and habits of the peasantry, none of the monastic orders was more fully sensible than the Cistercians, whose laborious but abstemious lives, sumptuous temples, and gorgeous ritual, threw an air of luxury upon every spot where the Order had once set its name.
From the shadowy woods which shelter and encompass it, Tinterne may be justly denominated the Vallis umbrosa of Monmouth ; but the fertility of the soil, and solemn retirement of the scene, so desirable for a great sanctuary in the “Ages of faith,” had an immense advantage in the noble and navigable river which formed the channel of communication between the interior and the sea; and, like an artery supplying nutriment to the system, brought its supplies of provision or treasure to the very gate of the abbey. And many a goodly cargo of corn from Hereford, and wine from Normandy, has been disembarked at that old pier, where the abbot's galley has degenerated into a clumsy ferryboat, with old Richard Tamplin, the ferryman, for its commander.
From ancient historical sources, which treat of the origin, progress, and dissolution of this abbey, we select the following materials :--The founder was Walter de Clare, a name famous in the annals of chivalry and church-building. The first stone was laid in the thirty-first year of the twelfth century; but more than a century and a halt elapsed before its completion. In those days churches were the work of generations; and it was rarely, indeed, that the founder lived to witness the fulfilment of his vow. “These all died in faith." In 1287, we are told the Ulihite friars took possession of the edifice consecrated
* In 1210, when King John summoned all the throughout all the other monasteries of England. From ecclesiastics and religious orders to meet him at Lon- this condition, however, they speedily recovered ; and don, he levied fines, which were computed to amount to of the seventy-five religions houses of this order that £100,000. The White or Cistercian Monks alone flourished at the Dissolution, thirty-six were superior paid £40,000 of silver additional; and their order, for monasteries.-Ecclesiast. Hist. a time, became so much reduced, that it was dispersed
to the Blessed Virgin,* and commenced those hallowed services which the Eighth Henry, by his sic volo, was destined to silence. These services, however,
had lasted for centuries; and who shall say, during the lapse of barbarous times, how much crime was prevented, how much good effected, by those holy men. Shut out from the haunts and habits of secular life, they exercised their spiritual functions, we may charitably believe, in a manner that drew many penitents to their altar; and, in the midst of wars and tumults, displayed the sacred banner of peace, and published the doctrine of salvation. Their record is on high. And, in justice to the Cistercians, it must be confessed, that if less learned, they were more exemplary, and not more worldly, thạn some other fraternities of higher pretensions. They exercised and patronised agriculture; and planting themselves, as the rule directed, in the depths of forests, or on desert heaths, they drew from the earth such sustenance as it would yield to the hand of labour; and trusted to those who sought their spiritual aid and counsel, for the means of building and embellishing their altars.
The order of Cistercians, as the reader is aware, made its appearance in England about the year 1128. In imitation of CHRIST and his twelve Apostles, the brotherhood was limited to twelve, with an abbot at their head, according to the rule of the Founder :“Et sicut ille monasteria constructa, per duodecim monachos adjuncto patre disponebat, sic se acturos confirmabant.”—Mon. Ang. iv. 699. Their first establishment in England was at Waverley, in Surrey; and in the course of time, their numbers had so multiplied, that, shortly before the dissolution of religious houses, they had seventy-five monasteries, and twenty-six nunneries in this country. Their patriarch was St. Robert, Abbot of Molesme, a Benedictine monastery in the
bishopric of Langres. This holy man becoming alarmed at the gradual decay of vital religion among the brotherhood, and their wilful neglect of the rules instituted by their founder, adopted measures for the immediate reformation of the order. Having obtained the Pope's sanction in
* 1287.—Conventus Ecclesiæ Beatæ Mariæ de sequenti Conventus intravit in choro, et prima missa Tynterna intravit dictam ecclesiam ad celebrandum celebrata fuit ad magnum altare. Dedicacio Ecclesiæ in nova ecclesia. Et quinto nonas Octobris in anno Tynteruiæ, 28 die Jullii. F. littera. - Will. de Worc.
CISTERCIANS—THEIR ORIGIN AND PROGRESS.
support of his design, he chose twenty-one of the brethren, and retiring from Molesme to the neighbourhood of Chalons-sur-Saone, took up his abode in the wilderness* of Citeaux; where, under the protection of Otho, Duke of Burgundy, and the Bishop of Chalons, he laid the foundation of a religious house, in which the rules of St. Benedict were to be strictly enforced, and the character of his followers restored. But the wisdom and piety of Robert having introduced several improvements into the rules of St. Benedict, the brotherhood began to present features so distinct from the parent establishment, that, on the return of St. Robert to Molesme, his successor, Albericus, obtained a charter from the Pope, constituting the monks of Citeaux into an independent order—that of Cistercians, or Whitefriars. Their rules were positive and stringent; they involved the surrender of all secular affairs into the hands of lay brothers, so that their lives and labours might be exclusively devoted to the exercise of charity and the service of the altar. In their choice of localities for the establishmentof new houses, they were enjoined, as already observed, to avoid cities, and go forth into the wilderness. This was favourable to pilgrimages; and with the fruits of these, and benefactions from all classes, what they had found a desert on their arrival, was speedily converted by labour and industry into a garden; and what was at first only a cell or chapel, was gradually extended into a church and abbey. The revenue of the order was divided into four parts—to the bishop, a fourth; to the priests, a fourth; to the exercise of hospitality, a fourth;
and another fourth for the support of widows and orphans, the relief of the sick, and the repairs of churches and cloisters. And inasmuch as they could not find, either in the life or rule of St. Benedict, that their founder had pos
* Citeaux-now Gilly-les-Citeaux-so famous for | Quia etiam beatum Benedictum non in civitatiits abbey. “ L'abbyeàde Citeaux,” says a French tour- bus, nec in Castellis aut in villis, sed in locis à freist, "chef d'ordre d'où dependaient 3,600 couvents de quentia hominum et populi semotis, Cænobia condeux sexes, fut fondée par Saint Robert, Abbé de struisse sancti viri illi sciebant, idem se æmulari proMolesme en 1098. Saint Bernard y prit l'habit mittebant. Et sicut ille monasteria constructa per en 1113, et y jeta la même année, les fondements de duodenos monachos adjuncto patre disponebat, sic se l'abbaye de la Ferté sur Gròne; de celle de Pontigny acturos confirmabant. - Monast. Anyl. ä.; art. Cisen 1114 ; de celles de Clairvaux et de Morimont en terc. 1115, appelées les quatre filles de Citeaux.”
Exuti ergo veterem hominem, novum se induisse Citeaux, afterwards so famous, was a miserable desert gaudent: et quia nec in regula nec in vita Sancti Beneat the arrival of St. Robert and his disciples :—" Qui dicti eundem doctorem legebant possedisse ecclesias, locus (Cistercium) et pro nemorum, et spinarum tunc vel altaria seu oblationes aut sepulturas vel decimas temporis opacitate accessui hominum insolitus, a solis aliorum hominum seu furnos vel molendinos aut villas feris inhabitabatur. Ad quem Viri Dei venientes lo aut rusticos, nec etiam fæminas monasterium ejus cumq. tantó religione quam animo jamque conceperant intrâsse, nec mortuos ibidem excepta sorore sua sepeet propter quam illuc advenerant, habiliorem quanto lisse, ideo hæc omnia abdicaverunt, dicentes -- ubi secularibus despicabiliorem et inaccessibilem intelligen- beatus Benedictus docet ut monachus à secularibus tes, nemorum et spinarum densitate prescissa et remota, actibus se faciat alienum, &c., &c.—Monast. Angl. iv. Monasterium ibidem construere cæperunt.-Alon. 699, Angl. art. Cister. v. iv. 695.
sessed any churches, or altars, or ovens, or mills, or towns, or serfs; or that any woman was ever permitted to enter his monastery, or any dead to be buried there, except his sister; they therefore renounced all these things: “Ecce hujus seculi divitiis spretis coeperunt novi milites Christi cum paupere Christo pauperes inter se tractare, quo ingenio, quo artificio, quo se exercitio in hac vita se hospitesque divites et pauperes supervenientes quos ut Christum suscipere præcipit regula sustentarent.” For a time the Cistercians continued in exemplary observance of their rules : poverty and humility walked hand in hand; but, in proportion as their revenues increased, their discipline began to relax; a taste for luxury* succeeded ; and whoever has visited their splendid abbeys abroad, will readily confess that, while professing abstinence and self-denial, they were lodged like princes, and like princes shared in the vanities and pleasures of the world. Their ruling passion was said to be avarice; but if they amassed riches, they spent them with a princely liberality; and their buildings, in this and other countries, present some of the finest specimens of taste ever raised by the hand of man.7
Cistercians were Benedictines, according to the letter of the rule, without mitigation. I Their peculiarities are thus described in Dugdale's Warwickshire :8–“First, for their habits, they wear no leather or linen, nor indeed any fine woollen cloth ; neither, except it be on a journey, do they put on any breeches, and then, after their return, deliver them fair washed. Having two coats with cowls, in winter time they are not to augment, but in summer, if they choose, they may lessen them; in which habit they are to sleep, and after matins not to return to their beds. For prayers, the hour of Prime, they so conclude, that before the Lauda it may be daybreak, strictly observing their rule, that not one iota or tittle of their service is omitted. Immediately after Lauda, they sing the Prime; and after Prime, they go out performing their appointed hours in work. What is to be done in the day, they act by daylight; for none of them, except he be sick, is to be absent from his diurnal hours or
* It is added that, when Caur-de-Lion was wbout said to "govern all Christendom ;" but, if they did not to start for the Holy Land (A.D. 1191), Folgius, a govern, they had at least an influence in every governbold confessor of the church, exhorted the monarch to ment and kingdom of Europe. Cardinal de Vetri says, dismiss his three daughters before joining the Crusade. they neither wore skins nor shirts ; never ate flesh, “Hypocrite!” said the king, "well thou knowest that except in sickness; and abstained from fish, eggs, I have no daughters.” “My liege," rejoined the con- milk, and cheese ; lay on straw-beds in tunics or cowls; fessor, “you have three-Pride, Avarice, and Lux rose at midnight to prayer ; spent the day in labour, ury." “Aha!” exclained Richard, “why, then, the reading, and prayer; and in all they did, exercised a Templars shall have Pude—the Cistercians, Avarice— continual silence. See Monast. Angl. and as for Luxury, let my bishops and clergy share her In quo regula sine ulla mitigatione ad apicem seramong them, and then they will all be well provided varetur.—Mabillon, quoted by Fosbroke. for until my return." - Thomas's Tinterne.
§ Brit. Monachism, p. 69. † They became so powerful at last, that they were
CISTERCIANS—CHARACTER OF THE ORDER.
Complinæ. When the Compline is finished, the steward of the house and he that hath charge of the guests go forth, but with great care of silence serve them.
For diet," the Abbot assumes no more liberty to himself than any of his convent, everywhere being present with them, and taking care of his flock, except at meat, in regard his talk is always with the strangers and poor people. Nevertheless, when he eats, he is abstemious of talk or any dainty fare; nor hath he
of them ever above two dishes of meat; neither do they eat of fat or flesh, except in case of sickness; and, from the ides of September till Easter, they eat no more than once a day, except on Sunday, and not even on festivals.
“Out of the precincts of their cloyster they go not but to work; neither there nor anywhere do they discourse with any but the abbot or prior. They unweariedly continue their canonical hours, not piecing any service to another, except the vigils for the deceased. Their manual labour was as follows: In summer, after Chapter, which followed Prime, they worked till Tierce; and, after Nones, till Vespers. In winter, from after Mass till Nones, and even to Vespers, during Lent. In harvest, when they went to work in the farms, they said Tierce and the conventual Mass immediately after Prime, that nothing might hinder their work for the rest of the morning; and often they said divine service in their places where they were at work, and at the same hours as those at home celebrated in the church. *
They observe the office of St. Ambrose, so far as they can have perfect knowledge thereof from Millain ; and, taking care of strangers and sick people, do devise extraordinary afflictions for their own bodies, to the intent their souls may be advantaged.” Of the same Order
Hospinian says—“ They allowed to candidates a year's probation, but no reception to fugitives after the third time. All fasts were observed according to the rule: to visitors prostration was enjoined, with washing of feet. At the Abbot's table sat the guests and pilgrims: they laboured more than the rule required : delicate habits were exploded : obsolete and primitive fervour was diligently revived and practised. But of this powerful order, avarice was the besetting vice : they were great dealers in wool, generally very ignorant, and, in fact, farmers rather than monks.”+ The best account of this brotherhood, as Fosbroke has told us, is to be found in the Usus Cisterciensium; but of their habits and ceremonies further notice will be found when we come to treat of the more opulent houses. Guyot le Provins, first a minstrel, then a monk, has thus satirized them in a poem, which he called a bible, or, more properly, libel. The
* Dev. Vie Monastique.-Brit. Monachism, note,
| De Orig. et Progr. Monach., p. 313, quoted by Fosbroke, p. 70.