History of the christian church



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After Peter’s death the glory of Cluny declined. 602 Six hundred years later, 1790, the order was dissolved by the French Government. The Hotel de Cluny, the Cluniac house in Paris, once occupied by the abbot, now serves as a museum of Mediaeval Art and Industry under the charge of the French government. 603

The piety of Western Christendom owes a lasting debt to Cluny for the hymn "Jerusalem the Golden," taken from the de contemptu mundi written by Bernard of Cluny, a contemporary of Peter the Venerable and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.4
Jerusalem the Golden,

With milk and honey blest,

Beneath thy contemplation

Sink heart and voice opprest.

I know not, oh, I know not

What social joys are there,

What radiancy of glory,

What light beyond compare.


§ 64. The Cistercians.
Literature.—Exordium parvum ordinis Cisterciensiae, Migne, 166. Exordium magnum ord. Cisterc., by Conrad of Eberbach, d. 1220; Migne, 185.—Manriquez: Ann. ord. Cisterc., 4 vols. Lyons, 1642.—Mabillon: Ann. ord. St. Benedict, Paris, 1706–1708.—P. Guignard: Les monuments primitifs de la règle Cistercienne, publiés d’après les manuscripts de l’abbaye de Citeaux, Dijon, 1878, pp. cxii. 656.—Pierre le Nain: Essai de l’hist. de l’ordre de Citeaux, Paris, 1696.—J. H. Newman: The Cistercian Saints of England, London, 1844.—Franz Winter: Die Cistercienser des nord-östlichen Deutschlands bis zum Auftreten der Bettelorden, 3 vols. Gotha, 1868–1871.—L. Janauschek: Origines Cisterciensium, Vienna, 1877.—B. Albers: Untersuchungen zu den ältesten Mönchsgewohnheiten. Ein Beitrag zur Benedictinerordensregel der X-XIIten Jahrhunderte, Munich, 1905.—Sharpe: Architecture of the Cisterc., London, 1874.—Cisterc. Abbeys of Yorkshire, in "Fraser’s Mag.," September, 1876.—Dean Hodges: Fountains Abbey, The Story of a Mediaeval Monastery, London, 1904.—Deutsch: art. Cistercienser, in Herzog, IV. 116–127; art. Harding, in "Dict. Natl. Biogr.," XXIV. 333–335; the Biographies of St. Bernard. For extended Lit. see the work of Janauschek.
With the Cluniac monks the Cistercians divide the distinction of being the most numerous and most useful monastic order of the Middle Ages,5until the Mendicant Friars arose and distanced them both. They are Benedictines and claim the great name of St. Bernard, and for that reason are often called Bernardins in France. Two popes, Eugenius III. and Benedict XII., proceeded from the order. Europe owes it a large debt for its service among the half-barbarian peasants of Eastern France, Southern Germany, and especially in the provinces of Northeastern Germany. Its convents set an example of skilled industry in field and garden, in the training of the vine, the culture of fish, the cultivation of orchards, and in the care of cattle. 606

The founder, Robert Molêsme, was born in Champagne, 1024, and after attempting in vain to introduce a more rigorous discipline in several Benedictine convents, retired to the woods of Molêsme and in 1098 settled with twenty companions on some swampy ground near Citeaux,7twelve miles from Dijon. Here Eudes, duke of Burgundy, 608erected a building, which went at first by the name of the New Monastery, novum monasterium.

Alberic, Robert’s successor, received for the new establishment the sanction of Pascal II., and placed it under the special care of the Virgin. She is said to have appeared to him in the white dress of the order. 609

Under the third abbot, Stephen Harding, an Englishman, known as St. Stephen, who filled the office twenty-five years (1110–1134),0the period of prosperity set in. In 1113 Bernard with thirty companions entered the convent, and the foundation of four houses followed, 1113–1115,—La Ferté, Potigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond,—which continued to have a rank above all the other Cistercian houses subsequently founded.

New houses followed rapidly. In 1130 there were 30 Cistercian convents, in 1168, 288. A rule was framed forbidding the erection of new establishments, but without avail, and their number in the fourteenth century had risen to 738. 611 The order, though never the recipient of such privileges as were dispensed to Cluny, was highly honored by some of the popes. Innocent III. showed them special favor, and promised them the precedence in audiences at Rome. 612

The carta charitatis, the Rule of Love, the code of the Cistercians, dates from Harding’s administration and was confirmed by Calixtus II.—1119. It commanded the strict observance of the Benedictine Rule, but introduced a new method of organization for the whole body. In contrast to the relaxed habits of the Cluniacs, the mode of life was made austerely simple. The rule of silence was emphasized and flesh forbidden, except in the case of severe illness. The conventual menu was confined to two dishes. All unnecessary adornment of the churches was avoided, so that nothing should remain in the house of God which savored of pride or superfluity. The crosses were of wood till the statutes of 1157 allowed them to be of gold. Emphasis was placed upon manual labor as an essential part of monastic life. A novice at Clairvaux writes enthusiastically of the employment of the monks, whom he found with hoes in the gardens, forks and rakes in the meadows, sickles in the fields, and axes in the forest.3 In some parts they became large landowners and crowded out the owners of small plats. 614 At a later period they gave themselves to copying manuscripts. 615 Their schools in Paris, Montpellier (1252), Toulouse (1281), Oxford (1282), Metz, and other places were noted, but with the exception of Bernard they developed no distinguished Schoolmen or writers as did the mendicant orders. 616 They were not given to the practice of preaching or other spiritual service among the people. 617 The general chapter, 1191, forbade preaching in the parish churches and also the administration of baptism. The order became zealous servants of the pope and foes of heresy. The abbot Arnold was a fierce leader of the Crusades against the Albigenses.

Following the practice introduced at the convent of Hirschau, the Cistercians constituted an adjunct body of laymen, or conversi. 618 They were denied the tonsure and were debarred from ever becoming monks. The Cistercian dress was at first brown and then white, whence the name Gray Monks, grisei. The brethren slept on straw in cowl and their usual day dress.

The administration of the Cistercians was an oligarchy as compared with that of the Cluniacs. The abbot of Cluny was supreme in his order, and the subordinate houses received their priors by his appointment. Among the Cistercians each convent chose its own head. At the same time the community of all the houses was insured by the observance of the Rule of 1119, and by yearly chapters, which were the ultimate arbiters of questions in dispute. The five earliest houses exercised the right of annual visitation, which was performed by their abbots over five respective groups. A General Council of twenty-five consisted of these five abbots and of four others from each of the five groups. The General Chapters were held yearly and were attended by all the abbots within a certain district. Those at remote distances attended less frequently: the abbots from Spain, every two years; from Sweden and Norway, every three years; from Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, and Greece, every four years; and from the Orient, every seven years. It became a proverb that "The gray monks were always on their feet."

The Cistercians spread over all Western Europe. The Spanish orders of Alcantara and Calatrava adopted their rule. The first Cistercian house in Italy was founded 1120 at Tiglieto, Liguria, and in Germany at Altenkamp about 1123. 619 In England the order got a foothold in 1128, when William Gifford, bishop of Winchester, founded the house of Waverley in Surrey. 620 Among the prominent English houses were, Netley near Southampton, founded by Henry III., Rivaulx, and Fountains, 621the greatest abbey in Northern England. In 1152 there were fifty Cistercian houses in England. 622 Melrose Abbey, Scotland, also belonged to this order.

Of all the Cistercian convents, Port Royal has the most romantic history. Founded in 1204 by Mathilda de Garlande in commemoration of the safe return of her husband from the Fourth Crusade, it became in the seventeenth century a famous centre of piety and scholarship. Its association with the tenets of the Jansenists, and the attacks of Pascal upon the Jesuits, brought on its tragic downfall. The famous hospice, among the snows of St. Gotthard, is under the care of St. Bernard monks.



In the thirteenth century the power of the Cistercians yielded to the energy of the orders of St. Francis and St. Dominic. It was not a rare thing for them to pass over to the newer monastic organizations. 623 In 1335 Benedict XIII. enacted regulations in the interest of a severe discipline, and in 1444 Eugenius IV. felt called upon to summon the General Chapter to institute a rigid reform. With the Reformation many of the houses were lost to the order in England and Germany. The Trappists started a new movement towards severity within the order. The French Revolution suppressed the venerable organization in 1790. The buildings at Citeaux, presided over by a succession of sixty-two abbots, are now used as a reformatory institution.
§ 65. St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Virtus in pace acquiritur, in pressura probatur, approbatur in victoria, St. Bernard. 624
Literature.—The Works of St. Bernard, ed. by Mabillon, 2 vols. Paris, 1667, reprinted with additions in Migne, 182–185, Engl. trans. by Saml. J. Eales, London, 1889, 2 vols.—Xenia Bernardina, a Memorial ed. by Cistercian convents of Austro-Hungary, 6 vols. Vienna, 1891. Leop. Janauschek: Bibliographia Bernardina, Vienna, 1891. The tract De consideratione, trans. by Bp. J. H. Reinkens, Münster, 1870.

Biographies.—Contemporary, in Migne, vol. 185: I. the so-called Vita prima, in six parts, by William of Thierry (while Bernard was still living), Gaufrid of Clairvaux, and Ernald, abbot of Bona Vallis; II. the Vita secunda, by Alanus of Auxerre; III. Fragments collected by Gaufrid; IV.—a Life, by John The Hermit, full of legendary materials.—Modern, by Neander, Berlin, 1813, 1848, 1868, new ed. with Introd. and Notes, by * S. M. Deutsch, 2 vols. Gotha, 1889. Engl. trans. London, 1843.—Ellendorf, Essen, 1837.—Abbé T. Ratisbonne, 2 vols. Paris, 1841, etc. Full of enthusiasm for Bernard as a saint.—* J. C. Morison, London, 1863; rev. ed. 1868, 1884. Cool and impartial.—Capefigue, Paris, 1866.—Chevallier, 2 vols. Lille, 1888.—Hofmeister, Berlin, 1891.—Eales (Rom. Cath.), London, 1891.—*Richard S. Storrs, 1892, stimulating and eloquent.—*L’Abbé E. Vacandard, 2 vols. Paris, 1895, 2d ed. 1897. A thorough study following a number of previous presentations in magazines and brochures.—J. Lagardère, Besançon, 1900.—Deutsch, art. Bernhard, in Herzog, II. 623–639. Also H. Kutter: Wilhelm von St. Thierry, ein Representant der mittelalterlichen Frömmigkeit, Giessen, 1898. For other literature see chapters, Mystical Theology and Hymns.
St. Bernard, 1090–1153, founder and abbot of the convent of Clairvaux, was the model monk of the Middle Ages, the most imposing figure of his time, and one of the best men of all the Christian centuries. He possessed a magnetic personality, a lively imagination, a rich culture, and a heart glowing with love for God and man. Although not free from what might now be called ecclesiastical rigor, he was not equalled by any of his contemporaries in services for the Church and man. "In his countenance," according to the contemporary biographer who knew him well, "there shone forth a pureness not of earth but of heaven, and his eyes had the clearness of an angel’s and the mildness of a dove’s eyes."5 There is no spotless saint in this world, and Bernard was furthest from claiming perfection, but he came as near the mediaeval ideal of ascetic holiness as any man of his century. 626

In the twelfth century there were at least two other ecclesiastics of the first order of genius, Anselm and Innocent III. The former passed away a few years after the century opened. Innocent began his papal reign two years before it went out. Anselm has pre-eminence as a profound theological thinker and dialectician. Innocent ruled the world, as pope never ruled it before or since. Between the two fall the intellectual genius and activity of Bernard, combining some of the qualities of Anselm and Innocent. As a mystical theologian he is allied to Anselm, whose Meditations give him a high place in the annals of devotional literature. And Bernard was also a statesman, although he did not attain the eminence of Innocent and shrank from participation in public affairs which were so much to the taste of the great pope. Contemporary with himself was Peter Abaelard, whose brilliant mind won for him enviable fame as a teacher and thinker. But Abaelard never won the confidence of his own age, and is not to be compared with Bernard in moral dignity.

By preference a monk, Bernard figured, with almost equal prominence, in the history of the papacy, the Crusades, mysticism, monasticism, and hymnology. In the annals of monasticism, the pulpit, and devotional literature he easily occupies a place in the front rank. He was called the "honey-flowing doctor," doctor mellifluus. Twenty years after his death he was canonized by Alexander III. as "shining preeminently in his own person by virtue of sanctity and religion, and in the whole Church by the light of his doctrine and faith."7 Pius VIII., in 1830, admitted him to the select company of the doctors of the Church. Both Calvin and Luther, who ridiculed the Schoolmen as a body, held him in high regard.8

Bernard was descended from a noble family of Burgundy, and was born at Fontaines near Dijon. He was one of seven children, six of whom were sons. His mother, Aletha, like Nonna and Monica, was a deeply pious woman and planted in the son the seeds of religious faith.9 Carried away for a time with enthusiasm for scholastic learning, the son was overwhelmed, while on a lonely journey, with religious impressions, and, entering a chapel, resolved to dedicate himself wholly to God. He entered the convent of Citeaux, two of his brothers following him at once, and the rest later into the monastic life.

This was in 1113 that Bernard cast in his lot with the Cistercians, and the event proved to be an epoch in the history of that new community. His diet was bread and milk or a decoction of herbs. 630 He devoted himself to the severest asceticism till he was reduced almost to a shadow, and his feet became so swollen from standing at devotions as almost to refuse to sustain his body. In after years, Bernard reproached himself for this intemperate self-mortification which unfitted his body for the proper service of the Lord. But his spirit triumphed over his physical infirmities. 631 While he was engaged in work in the fields, it soared aloft to heavenly things. He studied the Scriptures and the Fathers. His writings betray acquaintance with the classics and he quotes Seneca, Ovid, Horace, and other classical writers. The works of nature also furnished him with lessons, and he seems to have approached the modern estimate of nature as an aid to spiritual attainment. "Thou wilt find," he wrote, 632"something greater in the woods than in books. The trees and rocks will teach thee what thou canst not hear from human teachers. And dost thou not think thou canst suck honey from the rocks and oil from the hardest stones!" This seems to lose its weight in view of what one of Bernard’s biographers relates. Bernard travelled the whole day alongside the Lake of Geneva, and was so oblivious to the scenery that in the evening, at Lausanne, he was obliged to inquire what they had seen on the journey. We are probably justified in this case in ascribing an ascetic purpose to the monkish writer. 633

In 1115, in company with twelve companions, Bernard founded Clairvaux—Claravallis, Clear Valley—in a locality which before had been called Wormwood, and been the seat of robbers. William of St. Thierry, Bernard’s close friend and biographer, is in doubt whether the name vallis absinthialis came from the amount of wormwood which grew there or from the bitter sufferings sustained by the victims of the robbers.4 But he does not fail to draw the contrast between the acts of violence for which the place was once notorious, and the peace which reigned in it after Bernard and his companions set up their simple house. Then he says, "the hills began to distil sweetness, and fields, before sterile, blossomed and became fat under the divine benediction." 635

In this new cloistral retreat Bernard preached, wrought miracles, wrote innumerable letters,6received princes and high ecclesiastics. From there he went forth on errands of high import to his age. The convent soon had wide fame, and sent off many shoots. 637

William of St. Thierry8draws an attractive picture of Clairvaux, which at this long distance compels a feeling of rest. William says: —


I tarried with him a few days, unworthy though I was, and whichever way I turned my eyes, I marvelled and thought I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and also the old pathways of the Egyptian monks, our fathers, marked with the recent footsteps of the men of our time left in them. The golden ages seemed to have returned and revisited the world there at Clairvaux.... At the first glance, as you entered, after descending the hill, you could feel that God was in the place; and the silent valley bespoke, in the simplicity of its buildings, the genuine humility of the poor of Christ dwelling there. The silence of the noon was as the silence of the midnight, broken only by the chants of the choral service, and the sound of garden and field implements. No one was idle. In the hours not devoted to sleep or prayer, the brethren kept busy with hoe, scythe, and axe, taming the wild land and clearing the forest. And although there was such a number in the valley, yet each seemed to be a solitary. 639
Here is another description by the novice, Peter de Roya, writing from Clairvaux:0
"Its monks have found a Jacob’s ladder with angels upon it, descending to provide help to the bodies of the monks that they fail not in the way, and also ascending, and so controlling the monks’ minds that their bodies may be glorified. Their song seems to be little less than angelic, but much more than human.... It seems to me I am hardly looking upon men when I see them in the gardens with hoe, in the fields with forks and rakes and sickles, in the woods with axe, clad in disordered garments—but that I am looking on a race of fools without speech and sense, the reproach of mankind. However, my reason assures me that their life is with Christ in the heavens."
Bernard, to whom monastic seclusion was the highest ideal of the Christian life, bent his energies to induce his friends to take the vow. Its vigils and mortifications were the best means for developing the two cardinal virtues of love and humility. 641 His persistent effort to persuade his sister Humblina shocks our sense of what is due to the sacred ties of nature, but was fully justified by the examples of St. Anthony and Benedict of Nursia. Humblina was married to a husband of rank and had a family. When she appeared one day at Clairvaux, Bernard refused to go down to see her, for he had insisted before on her taking the veil and she had declined. Now she finally communicated to him the bitter cry, "If my brother despises my body, let not the servant of God despise my soul." 642 Bernard then heeded and again called upon her to renounce the vanities of the world and lay aside the luxuries of dress and ornaments. Returning to her household, Humblina, after two years, and with her husband’s consent, retired to the convent of Juilly, where she spent the remainder of her days.

Bernard’s attack upon the conventual establishment of Cluny was born of mistaken zeal. If of the two men Peter the Venerable appears to much better advantage in that controversy, it was different when it came to the treatment of the Jews. Here Peter seems to have completely laid aside his mild spirit, while Bernard displays a spirit of humaneness and Christian charity far beyond his age. In the controversy with Abaelard, a subject which belongs to another chapter, the abbot of Clairvaux stands forth as the churchman who saw only evil in views which did not conform strictly to the doctrinal system of the Church.

Bernard was a man of his age as well as a monastic. He fully shared the feelings of his time about the Crusades. In 1128, at the Synod of Troyes, his voice secured recognition for the Knight Templars, "the new soldiery." The ignoble failure of the Second Crusade, which he had preached with such warmth, 1146, called forth from him a passionate lament over the sins of the Crusaders, and he has given us a glimpse into the keen pangs he felt over the detractions that undertaking called forth. 643 The ill issue was not his fault. He himself was like Moses, who led the people towards the Holy Land and not into it. The Hebrews were stiff-necked. Were not the Crusaders stiff-necked also and unbelieving, who in their hearts looked back and hankered after Europe? Is it any wonder that those who were equally guilty should suffer a like punishment with the Israelites? To the taunt that he had falsely represented himself as having delivered a message from God in preaching the Crusade, he declared the testimony of his conscience was his best reply. Eugenius, too, could answer that taunt by what he had seen and heard. But, after all was said, it was a great honor to have the same lot with Christ and suffer being unjustly condemned (Ps. 69:9).

When, at a later time, Bernard was chosen at Chartres to lead another Crusade, the choice was confirmed by the pope, but the Cistercians refused to give their consent. 644

In the reigns of Innocent II. and Eugenius III. Bernard stood very near the papacy. He did more than any other single individual to secure the general recognition of Innocent II. as the rightful pope over his rival, Anacletus II. He induced the king of France to pronounce in favor of Innocent. Bent on the same mission, he had interviews with Henry I. of England at Chartres, and the German emperor at Liége. He entertained Innocent at Clairvaux, and accompanied him to Italy. It was on this journey that so profound were the impressions of Bernard’s personality and miracles that the people of Milan fell at his feet and would fain have compelled him to ascend the chair of St. Ambrose. On his third journey to Rome, in 1138,5Bernard witnessed the termination of the papal schism. In a famous debate with Peter of Pisa, the representative of Anacletus, he used with skill the figure of the ark for the Church, in which Innocent, all the religious orders, and all Europe were found except Anacletus and his two supporters, Roger of Sicily and Peter of Pisa. But an attempt, he said, was being made to build another ark by Peter of Pisa. If the ark of Innocent was not the true ark, it would be lost and all in it. Then would the Church of the East and the Church of the West perish. France and Germany would perish, the Spaniards and the English would perish, for they were with Innocent. Then Roger, alone of all the princes of the earth, would be saved and no other. 646

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