Model of Cluny Abbey

Model of Cluny Abbey

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History of the monument

The Abbey of Cluny was founded in 910 by William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine. He dedicated the lands of Cluny to the apostles Peter and Paul, thus protecting the Abbey against the power of the Bishop and the local landowners. He appointed Bernon as the first Abbot. The monks followed the Benedictine Order.

Cluny became a model for reforming other monasteries. Very quickly, across Europe, the Abbey became a model for those seeking religious reorganisation, and a multitude of monasteries were placed under the dependency of Cluny.

By the end of the 11th century, Cluny Abbey was one of the most important capitals in Christian Europe. It was at the head of a network of nearly 1,400 dependencies and around 10,000 monks all over Europe. The Abbot at the time, Hugues de Semur, decided to build an Abbey church that would represent the power of God over the Earth, but also the power of Cluny. In 1088, work began on the "Maior Ecclesia", the largest Romanesque church ever built, with vaulted arches 30 metres high. A century later, the narthex was constructed. The Abbey of Cluny, the "Maior Ecclesia" or Cluny III was therefore the largest church in Christendom for nearly 400 years.

Some illustrious Abbots succeeded each other over the following centuries, such as Richelieu or Mazarin, but this could not prevent the gradual decline of the once powerful Abbey. However, towards 1750, the monastic buildings were rebuilt and the Abbey was given a vast complex in a classical style. The monks hardly had time to occupy the new premises as the Revolution began shortly after the works were completed. The monks were then expelled and dispersed into the surrounding parishes and the buildings were seized as national assets and put up for sale.

The immense church was bought by materials merchants who used it for quarrystone and gradually dismantled this masterpiece of Romanesque art.
Today, the parts that remain, such as the Southern arm of the large transept or the small Southern transept, give us an idea of the immensity of this building. A number of other elements survive: the enclosure wall and its towers, the monastic buildings from the 18th century, and the Farinier, a 13th century building which now houses the sculpted capitals from the choir of the "Maior Ecclesia". The Museum of Art and Archaeology displays a number of sculpted remains from the church and the monastic district.

A 3D film at the start of the visit to the Abbey shows how the Abbey would have looked in its heyday.

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A Benedictine abbey of primary importance in the reform of the Church in the Middle Ages, located in the Rh ô ne Valley (Burgundy), Diocese of M â con, department of Sa ô ne-et-Loire.

Foundation and Buildings. On Sept. 2, 909, Duke William of Aquitaine offered Bl. berno the territory of Cluny on which he planned to build a monastery under the patronage of SS. Peter and Paul and which he exempted from all temporal authority except that of the Holy See. The successive stages of the buildings at Cluny have been the subject of intensive study by K. J. Conant. Berno replaced the original oratory with a church begun in 910 (Cluny I) this church, razed by majolus, was replaced by Cluny II, which was dedicated in 981. The monastery was rebuilt by odilo. Under hugh, Cluny III was an immense church completed c. 1113, and dedicated by innocent ii in 1130. Its main altar had been consecrated by urban ii in 1095. This sumptuous basilica influenced the Romanesque architecture of Burgundy (paray-lemonial, etc.) and the monumental sculpture of France and Spain in the 12th century. Six centuries later, during the tenure of Frederick Jerome de la Rochefoucauld (1747 – 57), the monastery was partially replaced by structures still in existence. The old basilica was almost totally destroyed during the 1798 to 1823 period.

Abbots and Monks. The list of abbots has been carefully established by G. de Valous [Dictionnaire d'histoire et de g é ographie eccl é siastiques, ed. A. Baudrillart et al. 13 (1956) 40 – 135]. Several of these had a hand in the making of medieval Europe. odo of cluny (927 – 942), Berno's successor, was the first of a series of abbots who during two centuries enabled Cluny to play its important role. Majolus (948 – 994), Odilo (994 – 1049), and Hugh (1049 – 109) were saints who epitomized the Cluniac ideal. Besides being counselors to the German emperors and diplomats in the service of popes and kings, the abbots of Cluny strove to create an authentic monastic spirit in their concern for the interests of the Church and the needs of the time. Many monasteries introduced internal reforms and adopted Cluniac customs priories were founded and gradually united by the adoption of common observance in essential matters. Together these formed an Ordo cluniacensis, which progressively became an order (i.e., a grouping of monasteries under the sole authority of the abbot of Cluny) under Odilo, Hugh, and their successors (see cluniac reform). Until the 12th century, the growth of the Cluniac properties was rapid. Cluniac "provinces" were established in France, Germany, England, Italy, and Spain, totaling 1,184 houses at the peak of the order's development (beginning of 12th century). Enjoying canonical exemption and temporal immunity, they were subject only to the Apostolic See.

Under Pons de Melgueil (1109 – 22) a less glorious period began, even though the prestige of Cluny remained great. peter the venerable (1122 – 57) engaged in a series of animated discussions with bernard of clairvaux concerning Cluniac observance. Despite the fact that the statutes were reformed in 1132, the vitality of Cluny diminished, especially because of difficult economic conditions. Subsequent abbots, chosen often from the great feudal families (Clermont, Anjou, Alsace, etc.), engaged in national or local struggles, and at the end of the 13th century, the order became completely national and French. Unfortunately the popes, with a view to remedying the deplorable state of the Curia's finances, conceded Cluniac priories in commendam, and certain abbots preferred to reside in Avignon rather than at Cluny. Jean de Bourbon (1456 – 85) was the last regular abbot. The commendatory abbots left a part of the government in the hands of vicars-general, but Cluny declined rapidly despite efforts at reform, especially in the 17th century. The order was divided into the Old Observance and the Strict Observance. On Feb. 19, 1790, Cluny came to an end juridically. The number of monks living in the Abbey of Cluny varied. There were 76 at the time of Odilo's election (994) more than 400 at the beginning of the 12th century 140 during the abbacy of Eymard Gouffier (1518 – 28) 72 in 1635 and 36 in 1725.

Legislation and Observance. At the time Cluny's foundation, Berno introduced the usages of Baume, i.e., the Rule of St. benedict as adapted by the legislation of benedict of aniane (see benedictine rule). At the beginning of the 11th century, the first customary appeared. It was a liturgical directory founded on usage, not on law. Several redactions, even for Cluny itself, are known. Under Abbot Odilo: the Antiquiores consuetudines (B), c. 1000 to 1015 and the Consuetudines Farfenses, c. 1030 to 1049. During the tenure of Hugh: the Consuetudines Bernardi, c. 1070 and the Consuetudines Udalrici, c. 1080 to 1083. The Consuetudines are descriptive rather than regulatory and do not contain the entire observance. When the needs of the order demanded, as they did during the terms of Peter the Venerable (1132) and Jean de Bourbon (1458), the Statuta were revised. Religious observance varied during the eight centuries of the abbey's existence. The daughter abbeys, moreover, were not required to follow the same observances as Cluny, for the customary was essentially flexible and devoid of legalism.

Cultural and Liturgical Life. Cluny's influence was not the result merely of the strong personalities of its abbots. Its monastic spirit was due to the hundreds of monks who generously consented to live the Cluniac observance of prayer and work, and whom Callistus II, in 1120, called "the mirror of monastic observance in modern times" (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 180:1164D). The cultural and artistic activity of Cluny surpassed that of all other monastic centers, with the exception of monte cassino (see cluniac art and architecture). Texts cited by J. Leclercq show that Cluny joined a profound spirituality with broad culture. The library had 570 volumes in the 12th century and Cluniac writings reveal essentially biblical, patristic, and historical orientation, which attached importance to the authors of classical antiquity.

The primacy of the liturgy in Cluniac observance did not impede individual work and private prayer. Most of the additional liturgical offices that brought on Cluny the accusation of "ritualism" had accumulated prior to Cluny. The customaries and statutes provided for many mitigations and dispensations (especially with regard to the monks entrusted with conventual functions). The weekly liturgy was essentially the same as that of the Rule of St. Benedict, with various supplements and with an amount of solemnity measured by the importance of a feast. The temporal and sanctoral cycles were related to the Roman rite, with local and monastic usages. A long and sometimes exhausting liturgy seems not to have excluded an air of joy and contentment.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, R é pertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieur é s, 2 v. (M â con 1935 – 39) 1:816 – 25, with bibliog. k. j. conant, "Mediaeval Academy Excavations at Cluny, VIII: Final Stages of the Project," Speculum 29(1954) 1 – 43 "Mediaeval Academy Excavations at Cluny, IX: Systematic Dimensions in the Buildings," ibid. 38 (1963) 1 – 45 "New Results in the Study of Cluny Monastery," Journal of the Society of Architectural History 16 (October 1957) 3 – 11 "Measurements and Proportions of the Great Church at Cluny," Beitr ä ge zu Kunstgeschichte und Arch ä ologie des Fr ü hmittelalters 22 (1960) 230 – 38. p. schmitz, "La Liturgie de Cluny," Spiritualit à cluniacense (Todi 1960) 83 – 99. j. leclercq, "Spiritualit é et culture à C1uny," ibid. 101 – 51, with bibliography Aux Sources de la spiritualit é occidentale (Paris 1964). k. hallinger, ed., Corpus consuetudinum monasticarum (Siegburg 1963 – ), ed. of Cluniac customaries. For additional bibliography, see cluniac reform.

About this page

APA citation. Alston, G.C. (1908). Congregation of Cluny. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Alston, George Cyprian. "Congregation of Cluny." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by John D. Beetham.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

The Passage Galilée - Cluny Abbey - model of Cluny III

A visit to Cluny Abbey, the visit would take around an hour.

Cluny Abbey (or Cluni, or Clugny, French pronunciation: ​[klyni]) is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to St Peter. The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural style, with three churches built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th centuries. The earliest basilica was the world's largest church until the St. Peter's Basilica construction began in Rome.

Cluny was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine in 910. He nominated Berno as the first Abbot of Cluny, subject only to Pope Sergius III. The abbey was notable for its stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, whereby Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of western monasticism. The establishment of the Benedictine Order was a keystone to the stability of European society that was achieved in the 11th century. In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed, with only a small part of the Abbey surviving.

Starting around 1334, the Abbots of Cluny maintained a townhouse in Paris known as the Hôtel de Cluny, which has been a public museum since 1843. Apart from the name, it no longer possesses anything originally connected with Cluny.

In 2007 the Abbey of Cluny was the first site to receive the "European Heritage" label.

The Passage Galilée ensured the junction between the abbey church and the galilee of Cluny II. It's present state is a result of 19th century refurbishments.


The only well preserved remnants of the abbey church of Cluny III ( Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France): a transept and its tower, called “of the Holy Water”. This is all that remains from the Cluny abbey, at its time the biggest abbey complex in all the West, later destroyed during the French Revolution.

The reform of the Order of Saint Benedict carried out by the French monks of the Abbey of Cluny had important artistic consequences. Until then all the existing Benedictine abbeys had no more in common than the precepts of their founder there was no general common authority for the whole Order. Over time the Benedictine monasteries, reformed by Charlemagne’s initiative, had relapsed in disorder and immoralities as a consequence, within the Order itself slowly developed a sentiment aimed to restored the ancient Benedictine spirit and piety long lost. The final reform started in Cluny, a Benedictine monastery in Burgundy (France) founded in the early tenth century. Its initial idea was to end the disintegration and independence of the different Benedictine abbeys. Initially, this reform was not meant to be universal, since only wanted to group the Order’s monasteries under a minimum hierarchy in order to maintain discipline. But it was only through the work of St. Odo and St. Majolus, the second abbots of Cluny, that the Order of St. Benedict acquired new splendor.

Under these circumstances, Cluny can be considered as a new Montecassino because it can be said that under its rule the Benedictine Order was reborn. Cluny was fortunate to have had a series of truly eminent abbots. The second abbot, Odo (927-942) promoted the aggregation of the Benedictine monasteries around a principal one. The Cluniac organization quickly spread as Cluny also founded subsidiary abbeys (which were in turn new religious centers around which smaller Benedictine houses were aggregated), and as kings and nobles greatly facilitated the implementation of the new reform by offering the Benedictine houses of their own states.

Remains of the nave of the once vast monastery church of the Cluny Abbey. Reconstruction of the abbey church of Cluny III.

So it is not surprising that the rebuilding of the church of the abbey of Cluny, thanks to the unlimited resources available for the Order, resulted in the construction of what became the greatest Western church of all Christendom, even greater than the basilicas of the Apostles in Rome. The early small church of Duke William, built under Abbot Berno, had already been replaced by the so-called Cluny II (built between 955 and 1000), which was in turn destroyed to build Cluny III following a colossal design begun in 1088. This temple had a long narthex with three naves so vast inside that could hold a great church after passing a door decorated with countless sculptures there were the five naves of the basilica also with two transepts, each with several apses or chapels, and a large choir at the far end including apsidioles and ambulatory. Over the posterior transept was a fine octagonal lantern tower, and on the anterior transept close to the sanctuary, was the so called Tower of the Lamps. On each side of the narthex’ door were two large square bell towers with their arrows, one for the archives and the other for the Abbey’s prison or confinement place. The immense central nave was covered with a barrel vault, while the lateral naves were so with groin vaults. Little is known about the sculptures adorning the main door and that represented the Lord in Majesty in the act of blessing within an almond-shape halo and accompanied by angels and the four Evangelists. It seems that this gigantic temple was completely finished when it was consecrated on December 15, 1097, nine years after the first stone was laid. Beside the church was the cloister surrounded by the refectory*, kitchen, warehouses, libraries, and two houses for the abbots located outside the core of the monastery.

Reconstruction of the complex of the Cluny Abbey.

All of the monastery’s buildings, as well as its orchards and gardens, were enclosed inside a big wall, and another fortified wall also surrounded the small town of Cluny stretching on a slope of a nearby hill. Cluny remained intact until the French Revolution, but today nothing remains from the great church and the monastery, except for a portion of one of the transepts and one tower. In these few preserved remains there are already pointed or ogival arches*, and the capitals of the apse show a style saturated with an aesthetic intellectualism characteristic of the Cluniac monks.

The Vézelay Abbey church, (Vézelay, Yonne department, northern Burgundy, France). The Benedictine abbey church is now known as the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Saint Mary Magdalene) and includes a complicated cycle of imagery in its sculpted capitals and portals in a whole considered as one of the outstanding masterpieces of Burgundian Romanesque art and architecture.

If from this colossal cluster of buildings belonging to Cluny abbey there are no more than ruined relics, the contrary can be said about the almost intact remains of one of its subsidiary abbeys: Vézelay, also in Burgundy, with its great church provided with a spacious atrium and an apse with ambulatory, which represented in a smaller scale a reduced copy of what should have been the great mother church of the Cluny abbey.

The abbey of Vézelay was famous because housed the remains of St. Magdalene and as a consequence was an important place of international pilgrimage. This church only has three naves, but the decorative richness of capitals and imposts is the same exhibited in all other Cluniac constructions. The starts of the vaults are decorated with beautiful strips of intertwined vine stems, and the capitals show multiple biblical or symbolic scenes between whimsical spirals of vine or ivy stems all stylized. The monuments of the Order of Cluny have this fantastic multitude of tiny animals: birds, centaurs and lions, prophets and singers, all tangled between spirals of plant decoration. The decorative style of ornamental friezes, with tiny sculptures, full of birds, men and animals between curled vine leaves, was applied not only to architecture but also to small luxury items, furniture and pieces of jewelry. This decorative style spread from France throughout Europe in such profusion that it was not surprising that soon began a strong reaction against it and in favor of the traditional humility initially associated with the Benedictine Order.

A view of the main nave, Vézelay Abbey. Central panel of one of the nave’s historiated capitals of Vezélay abbey representing Lust and Despair: here, the Despair is portrayed as an open-mouthed demon with burning hair, while plunging a sword into his own stomach. Right side panel of one of the nave’s historiated capitals of Vezélay abbey representing Lust and Despair: here is portrayed the punishment of lust, a nude woman being bitten by serpents.

One of the nave’s historiated capitals of Vezélay abbey: a basilisk, at left, faces two grotesque creatures on the other side of the capital. The basilisk is a fabulous creature with the head and wings of a rooster and the body of a serpent. At right, a humanoid figure stands behind a grasshopper-like creature. The human-like figure has a round head and holds a vase-like object with both hands. The creature below him has scales like a fish, wings, lion-like feet, a mustache and horns.

The Cluniac reform was aimed with the major desire to achieve greater discipline, establishing a hierarchy among formerly independent monasteries, but this centralized regime triggered the excessive enrichment of the Order which led to another sin: pride, and another immorality: the abuse of power. This was a second relapse forcing a new reform. This reform took place in the monastery of Cîteaux (Latin: Cistercium), also in Burgundy, on the initiative of St. Bernard, the spiritual brother of Peter the Hermit preacher of the First Crusade. The Cistercian Order was not, like Cluny, a completely new type of religious doctrine: in early eleventh century three monks from the monastery of Molesme led by the Abbot Robert of Molesme, who vainly had tried to reform their own abbey, left for Lyon and once there, with four other monks, asked the bishop to grant them a secluded place where they could practice the rule of St. Benedict in all its rigor. The permission was granted and joined by another 21 monks, they settled in the desert wilderness of Cîteaux, in the diocese of Châlons. The Cistercian monks were to live solely on manual labor and to avoid reaching the excessive richness of Cluniac monasteries, they refused on every occasion the few donations they were offered.

Refectory: (from the Latin reficere or refectorium meaning “a place one goes to be restored”). A space destined as a dining room in a monastery.

Pointed or Ogival Arch: An arch with a narrow and pointed apex like the head of a spear. It is the arch characteristic of Gothic architecture and one of the defining characteristics of the Gothic style. Pointed arches were used in the Near East in pre-Islamic as well as Islamic architecture before they were employed structurally in medieval architecture.

Ogive(s): In Gothic architecture, ogives are the intersecting transverse ribs of arches that establish the surface of a Gothic vault.

Model of Cluny Abbey - History

L'Abbaye de Cluny

There can be no getting away from the importance of the Abbey of Cluny in the history of Burgundy. But if you visit this popular site, keep past glories in the forefront of your mind. Only about a tenth of the great monastery of Cluny remains and a visit is rather a 'virtual' tour. The advice of a professional guide is to watch the excellent audio visual presentation when you arrive to set the scene of events.

For it was here in the 12th C that Gregorian chants filled the air. There were grandiose ceremonies, glorified with gold and incense, magnificent paintings and mosaics, and hundreds of Benedictine monks worshipped. They believed that praising God in such a setting was preparation for the life hereafter.
Such was the might of Cluny that it controlled the lives of multi thousands of people in affiliated monasteries throughout Christendom from Scotland to Poland. The abbey was able to start crusades, and punished offenders with excommunication.

The wealth of the monastery was unimaginable and the abbey, Cluny III which resulted from it, was the largest in the world and the pinnacle of Romanesque architecture. Through Divine Office, devotion to the dead was magnified, and all those who associated themselves, through donations, benefited from the perpetual prayers of the monks. All Souls’ Day on November 2nd resulted, still celebrated by the Catholic Church today.

Choir capital built circa 1275

Cluny III, initiated by St Hugues of Semur (1049-1109) took 40 years to complete. It had five altars, four major steeples, two towers and double aisles. It was the longest building in Christendom until St Peter’s in Rome was rebuilt. The Order of Cluny continued through ups and downs, counting Cardinal Richelieu amongst its abbots. Rome became more powerful, the King of France eroded the powers of the Church and the Revolution finally put an end to Cluny in 1791. The building survived this onslaught but unbelievably, the magnificent abbey was demolished for building materials in the early 19th C. What was left of the monastic buildings became an arts and crafts college, still in existence today.

The section of the abbey still remaining is the great transept which shows the enormous height of the original building. The atmosphere of past glory however has disappeared and you are left with computer graphics to piece together the history.

For anyone interested in Romanesque architecture Autun, Vézelay and St-Philibert’s Abbey in Tournus are probably more rewarding.

L’Abbaye de Cluny is open every day except Jan 1, May 1, Nov 1 & 11 and Dec 25
There is a museum of archaeology and art on the site.

the route to Santiago de Compostela

One of the pilgrimage footpaths to Santiago de Compostela in Spain leaves from Cluny to reach Le Puy-en-Velay, starting point of the “Via Podiensis”, the oldest of the 4 roads leading to Santiago de Compostela. From Cluny Abbey to Le Puy-en-Velay, the 315 km are divided into 14 stages to guide the pilgrims to the busiest of the 4 historic routes. The attractiveness of these roads comes first from the beauty of its route, the architectural treasures that mark it out, but also the presence of a strong hospitality and accommodation facility.

Cluniac Reforms

The Cluniac (Clunian) Reform was a series of changes within medieval monasticism. The reforms focused on restoring the traditional life in the monasteries. Monasteries should encourage the production of artworks. They should also care for the poor.

The reform is named after the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy. It started in the Benedictine order there. The reform was largely carried out by Saint Odo. It spread through France (Burgundy, Provence, Auvergne, Poitou), England and much of Italy and Spain. [1]

The reform was stated, because there was corruption in the Benedictine order. People thought this corruption came because people that were not priests and that came from outside the monasteries interfered with them. A Benetictine monastery needed land. This land was given by a Feudal lord. By giving the land, the lord would become the patron of the monastery. However, he would often demand the right to interfere in the business of the monastery. [2] The Cluny reform was an attempt to change this practice. A more independent abbot would have better success at enforcing the Rule of the order, it was thought. William of Aquitaine formed the first Cluny monastery in 910 with the novel stipulation that the monastery would report directly to the pope rather than to a local lord. This meant essentially that the monastery would be independent, since the pope's authority was largely theoretical at that distance.

During its height (about 950–c.1130) the Cluniac movement was one of the largest religious forces in Europe. [3] Among the most notable reform supporters were Pope Urban II, [4] Lambert of Hersfeld and Abbot Richard of Saint Vannes at Verdun. The Cluniacs were supporters of the Peace of God concept, as well as pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. [2]

Model of Cluny Abbey - History

REQUIRED READING : Benedict XVI, Cluniac Reform, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning I would like to speak to you about a monastic movement that was very important in the Middle Ages and which I have already mentioned in previous Catecheses. It is the Order of Cluny which at the beginning of the 12 th century, at the height of its expansion, had almost 1,200 monasteries: a truly impressive figure! A monastery was founded at Cluny in 910, precisely 1,100 years ago, and subsequent to the donation of William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, was placed under the guidance of Abbot Berno. At that time Western monasticism, which had flourished several centuries earlier with St Benedict, was experiencing a severe decline for various reasons: unstable political and social conditions due to the continuous invasions and sacking by peoples who were not integrated into the fabric of Europe, widespread poverty and, especially, the dependence of abbeys on the local nobles who controlled all that belonged to the territories under their jurisdiction. In this context, Cluny was the heart and soul of a profound renewal of monastic life that led it back to its original inspiration.

At Cluny the Rule of St Benedict was restored with several adaptations which had already been introduced by other reformers. The main objective was to guarantee the central role that the Liturgy must have in Christian life. The Cluniac monks devoted themselves with love and great care to the celebration of the Liturgical Hours, to the singing of the Psalms, to processions as devout as they were solemn, and above all, to the celebration of Holy Mass. They promoted sacred music, they wanted architecture and art to contribute to the beauty and solemnity of the rites they enriched the liturgical calendar with special celebrations such as, for example, at the beginning of November, the Commemoration of All Souls, which we too have just celebrated and they intensified the devotion to the Virgin Mary. Great importance was given to the Liturgy because the monks of Cluny were convinced that it was participation in the liturgy of Heaven. And the monks felt responsible for interceding at the altar of God for the living and the dead, given large numbers of the faithful were insistently asking them to be remembered in prayer. Moreover, it was with this same aim that William the Pious had desired the foundation of the Abbey of Cluny. In the ancient document that testifies to the foundation we read: "With this gift I establish that a monastery of regulars be built at Cluny in honor of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, where monks who live according to the Rule of St Benedict shall gather. so that a venerable sanctuary of prayer with vows and supplications may be visited there, and the heavenly life be sought after and yearned for with every desire and with deep ardor, and that assiduous prayers, invocations and supplications be addressed to the Lord". To preserve and foster this atmosphere of prayer, the Cluniac Rule emphasized the importance of silence, to which discipline the monks willingly submitted, convinced that the purity of the virtues to which they aspired demanded deep and constant recollection. It is not surprising that before long the Monastery of Cluny gained a reputation for holiness and that many other monastic communities decided to follow its discipline. Numerous princes and Popes asked the abbots of Cluny to extend their reform so that in a short time a dense network of monasteries developed that were linked to Cluny, either by true and proper juridical bonds or by a sort of charismatic affiliation. Thus a spiritual Europe gradually took shape in the various regions of France and in Italy, Spain, Germany and Hungary.

Cluny's success was assured primarily not only by the lofty spirituality cultivated there but also by several other conditions that ensured its development. In comparison with what had happened until then, the Monastery of Cluny and the communities dependent upon it were recognized as exempt from the jurisdiction of the local Bishops and were directly subject to that of the Roman Pontiff. This meant that Cluny had a special bond with the See of Peter and, precisely because of the protection and encouragement of the Pontiffs the ideals of purity and fidelity proposed by the Cluniac Reform spread rapidly. Furthermore, the abbots were elected without any interference from the civil authorities, unlike what happened in other places. Truly worthy people succeeded one another at the helm of Cluny and of the numerous monastic communities dependent upon it: Abbot Odo of Cluny, of whom I spoke in a Catechesis two months ago, and other great figures such as Eymard, Majolus, Odilo and especially Hugh the Great, who served for long periods, thereby assuring stability and the spread of the reform embarked upon. As well as Odo, Majolus, Odilo and Hugh are venerated as Saints.

Not only did the Cluniac Reform have positive effects in the purification and reawakening of monastic life but also in the life of the universal Church. In fact, the aspiration to evangelical perfection was an incentive to fight two great abuses that afflicted the Church in that period: simony, that is the acquisition of pastoral offices for money, and immorality among the secular clergy. The abbots of Cluny with their spiritual authority, the Cluniac monks who became Bishops and some of them even Popes, took the lead in this impressive action of spiritual renewal. And it yielded abundant fruit: celibacy was once again esteemed and practised by priests and more transparent procedures were introduced in the designation of ecclesiastical offices.

Also significant were the benefits that monasteries inspired by the Cluniac Reform contributed to society. At a time when Church institutions alone provided for the poor, charity was practised with dedication. In all the houses, the almoner was bound to offer hospitality to needy wayfarers and pilgrims, travelling priests and religious and especially the poor, who came asking for food and a roof over their heads for a few days. Equally important were two other institutions promoted by Cluny that were characteristic of medieval civilization: the "Truce of God" and the "Peace of God". In an epoch heavily marked by violence and the spirit of revenge, with the "Truces of God" long periods of non-belligerence were guaranteed, especially on the occasion of specific religious feasts and certain days of the week. With "the Peace of God", on pain of a canonical reprimand, respect was requested for defenceless people and for sacred places.

In this way, in the conscience of the peoples of Europe during that long process of gestation, which was to lead to their ever clearer recognition two fundamental elements for the construction of society matured, namely, the value of the human person and the primary good of peace. Furthermore, as happened for other monastic foundations, the Cluniac monasteries had likewise at their disposal extensive properties which, diligently put to good use, helped to develop the economy. Alongside the manual work there was no lack of the typical cultural activities of medieval monasticism such as schools for children, the foundation of libraries and scriptoria for the transcription of books.

In this way, 1,000 years ago when the development of the European identity had gathered momentum, the experience of Cluny, which had spread across vast regions of the European continent, made its important and precious contribution. It recalled the primacy of spiritual benefits it kept alive the aspiration to the things of God it inspired and encouraged initiatives and institutions for the promotion of human values it taught a spirit of peace. Dear brothers and sisters let us pray that all those who have at heart an authentic humanism and the future of Europe may be able to rediscover, appreciate and defend the rich cultural and religious heritage of these centuries.

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This model (French, "maquette") by the French company L'Instant Durable for the Cluny Abbey is not a bad first choice for the beginner architectural paper modeling hobbyest. The model is fairly large, and the pieces themselves are, for the most part, larger than some of the more sophisticated types of paper building models (see below). It's not to say that this is an EASY model to put together, for it, like the others listed below, require many weeks of careful and methodical attention if they are to finalize into a well-executed model. But because of the the (relatively) large scale pieces and the actual number of pieces in the model, this is a good maquette on which to cut your teeth in this very enjoyable and rewarding hobby.

This particular model opens up in the middle after construction to reveal the inner main chapel interior. This means that you have the option of either leaving the model open on display so that parts of the interior are showing, or you can leave the two major components connected to show a single, completed building (and no apparent traces can be seen that the model opens up, so you can choose either configuration). What I typically do is leave it in closed position, and then, if someone shows interest in looking at the model, I open it up before their eyes. Most people are very intrigued and interested when you do this!

This model is a 250:1 scale, and consists of 300 pieces on medium-weight paper stock. It is a model of the real Cluny Abbey, now destroyed, which was once the largest church in Europe before it was cannibalized to use its cut stones in other building projects. The ruins that still exist today--nothing more than a few lower walls and one tower--are marked in a subtil way on the model so that this aspect of the building can also be examined. Very cool.

I might add that another excellent model from the same company is the Sainte-Chapelle (Paris): Scale Architectual Paper Model , which is much, much smaller, contains far fewer pieces, and also adds the unique "opening" feature of the Cluny model here. You assemble the model by cutting and scoring the pieces as marked, then attaching them in the designated sequence using the part numbering system. Some instructions are included, but you will need to figure out some things as you go because the instructions are not always as detailed as you wish. But take your time, build an understanding before you procede in each section, and you can do it! The results can be simply amazing.

I highly recommend this model as a five star, particularly if you are looking for a modeling craft that is unusual and enjoyed by those who come across your work. The models by L'Instant Durable are difficult to find outside of France, but, occasionally, you will see them show up in Amazon. Grab them when they do. They are expensive, but even expensive in Europe.

Watch the video: Watchmen of the Night - Benedictine Monks of the Barroux Abbey