Cistercians


By: Christina Homan


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Topic: I choose to do my Wiki Research Topic on Cistercians. My goal is to find out information about this particular group of individuals called the Cistercians who practiced their religious beliefs together. I want to know how they practiced and what they believed.

Working Notes: I did a little research in Wikipedia and the Catholic encyclopedia and saw there are four time frames and names of each time frame associated with this particular group. I also saw that the Cistercian group associates with nuns and monks. I want to know what their group was all about, what religious beliefs they had, and I also read in Wikipedia something about them brewing ale beer so I definitely want to know if that is true.

References: These are the articles I have chosen to use as my resources. I had some issues putting concrete arguments together with some of the articles so I choose to add my backup article. :) I also had to unfortunately condense my references because my paper ended up being way too long.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. "The Cistercian Conception of Community: An Aspect of Twelth-Century Spirituality." The Harvard Theological Review 68 (Oct. 1975) : 273-286. JSTOR. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1509187>.

Gildas, Marie. "Cistercians." The Catholic Encylopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. Catholic Encylopedia. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/0378c.htm>.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. "Jesus As Mother And Abbot As Mother." The Harvard Theological Review 70.3/4 (1977): 257-284. JSTOR. Web. 20 Mar. 2011.



Focus- The author Bynum is arguing that Jesus was considered a mother figure to the Cistercians. Jesus was considered a mother and father figure to the Cistercians because of his unconditional love and nurturing that he provides. When Bynum discusses a mother she is referring to being a nurturer and care taker of children; not to a physical woman (yet the role of a mother). Jesus was the Cistercians mother because he took care of them. There are other authors in Bynum’s article that argue about the maternal imagery and some agree with her and some do not.

Wiki Article Analysis 1: By Christina Homan
Jesus As Mother And Abbot As Mother By: Caroline Walker Bynum

Jesus Image vs. Mother
The Cistercians (Bynum)
Maternal imagery (Bynum)
Jesus provided unconditional love, food (nurturing), shelter, protection, forgiveness, acceptance, birth, authority, etc.
A mother provides unconditional love, food (nurturing), shelter, protection, forgiveness, acceptance, and birth.
These particular Cistercians are the ones who used the maternal imagery: Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx, Guerric of Igny, Isaac of Stella, Adam of Perseigne, Helinand of Froidmont, and William of Saint-Thierry.
The use of maternal imagery was widespread in the twelfth-century and the image was complex. The image of God and Christ is usually a “male” but the Cistercians described God as their mother.

Jesus Image vs. Mother
Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153)
William of Saint-Thierry (d. 1148)

Bernard believes the maternal image is associated with breast like a symbol of the pouring of affection. Bernard says, “a mother cannot fail to love her child (page 23).”
William believes more that Christ feeds the individual soul, but unlike Bernard William avoids references to God as mother.
Jesus Image vs. Mother
Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153)
Guerric abbot of Igny (d. 1157)

Bernard believes the maternal image is associated with breast like a symbol of the pouring of affection. Bernard says, “a mother cannot fail to love her child (page 23).”
Guerric’s interest is images of pregnancy and the womb. He believes the heart is in the womb and the soul is formed into the bowels of God the father. Guerric makes the most complex maternal imagery to speak to God! Guerric says, “’motherhood’ describes the relationship of Christ (page 27).”
Jesus Image vs. Mother
Anselm of Bec (d. 1109)
Adam abbot of Perseigne (d. 1221)

Anselm says, “the consoling, nurturing Jesus as a hen gathering her chicks under her wing and suggests that mother Jesus revives the soul at her breast.” He also says, “Jesus, good lord, are you not also a mother (page 22)?” Anselm believes Christ suffered for our souls.
Like Anselm, Adam refers to nurturing and also uses the metaphor of the chicks under the wing, like Jesus as the nurturing mother. Unlike Anselm, Adam believes the image of giving birth is restricted to the soul’s fertility in good works.
Jesus Image vs. Mother
Dependence (Aelred of Rievaulx)
Conclusion (Bynum)

The connection is drawn between detachment from the world and union with both neighbor and God in love. This is the false dependence that creates the true dependence that the imagery of Cistercian writings conveys. Meaning Cistercians withdraw themselves from the world to be closer to God.
Cistercians maternal imagery is related to their concern with dependence and independence. Cistercians renounced dependence on the world in order to embrace dependence within religious community so they could learn dependence on God. This is a contributor to the maternal imagery used because they set themselves apart, to be closer to God in all ways possible.
Implication- I think all of these authors have a good argument on the imagery of God and I think that some agree on certain topics and some disagree. I think it was good for the Cistercians to want such a spiritual relationship with God, and it was definitely interesting reading the different arguements on Cistercian practices and beliefs.




Focus- Bynum is arguing that Cistercians had brotherly love and a sense of community. Bynum argues the difference between the twelfth-century traditional conception of a cenobitical community verses Cistercians belief in a loving community. Many Cistercian and twelfth-century authors contribute their own arguments in Bynum’s article to conclude the argument Bynum is trying to make about Cistercians.

Wiki Article Analysis 2- By: Christina Homan
The Cistercian Conception Of Community An Aspect Of Twelfth-Century Spirituality By: Caroline Walker Bynum
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Cistercians brotherly love (Bynum)
Communal life vs. Cenobitism (Bynum)

Cistercians had brotherly love in their accounts of growth towards God. The new twelfth-century interest in brotherly love was seen as a tension with the Cistercians sense of brotherly love.
The “crisis of cenobitism” reform movement within monasticism caused a turn away from communal life. The Cistercians are the ones who try to bring back communal life.
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Black monks vs. brotherly love (Butler)
Change and Virtue (Bernard, William, Aelred, Adam, Stephen)

Black monks described the behavior of brothers within the cloister to not stress relationships or brotherly love, but focus on the obedience to the rule or one’s superiors more.
Cistercians had a large role of love and behavior. Cistercians had relationships between abbots and monks, seniors and juniors, and interpersonal relationships were an incentive to compassions and learning humility.
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Love and Humility (Bernard of Clairvaux)
Love of God (Aelred of Rievaulx)

Love of one’s neighbor brings joy. The monastic community provides an opportunity for growth in humility by concealing ones virtue and rejoicing the virtue of your neighbor.
Grow closer to God by loving your neighbor. Closeness to your neighbor is an incentive to growth in virtue.
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Cenobium (Adam of Perseigne, Stephen of Salley)
Black monks vs. brotherly relationships (John, Rupert, Peter, Abelard, Peter of Celle)

Opportunity to practice obedience, and opportunity to imitate the conduct of your brothers so you can grow emotionally through the stimulation of good examples of others.
Monks can learn from one another, but they do not stress relationships among brothers. Monks did so because relations with brothers could contribute to emotional change within the soul.
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Contemplation is the goal (Aelred of Rievaulx)
Falling away from Contemplation (Bernard)

Turning to the needs of another is a painful departure from Christ. Progress towards God is more important and is the goal.
It is a sin to retain what has been given to one to be expended for others. The vocation a monk is to cultivate his own virtue not to serve others.
Behavior and Brotherly Love
Black monks vs. White monks (Bynum)
Cistercians (Bynum)

Black monks are more inclined to obedience, and brother’s external behavior. White monks are more inclined to stress relations among equals.
Cistercians emphasize emotional development and they permeated religious life. Cistercians felt monks were responsible only for his own salvation.
Implication- I think the argument Bynum is making is true but there are so many different argument in this article it was hard to put them all together. I think the main point Bynum and other authors were trying to make is that Cistercians did have community and brotherly love. Some Cistercian and twelfth-century authors agree and some did not. The other point this article made is the differences between black and white monks and Cistercians.






The Cistercians Spirituality and Love

Christina Homan

History 220/ Religion 390, Wiki Essay
Professor Winkler
21 April 2011



The Cistercians Spirituality and Love
The Cistercians were established in 1098 by the village of Citeaux. A man named St. Robert, Abbot of Molesme created this village known as the Cistercians. After St. Robert started and managed Citeaux for one year then returned to his monastery at Molesme with the permission of the Pope (Gildas, 1908). The term Cistercian derives from Cistercium the Latin name for the village of Citeaux (Gildas, 1908). The Cistercians are remembered by four time periods: The Formation (1098-1134), The Golden Age (1134-1342), The Decline (1342-1790) and The Restoration (after 1790) (Gildas, 1908). The Cistercians are known as a congregation of monks and nuns with the goal of following the Rule of Saint Benedict and God (Gildas, 1908).
The formation was the period of the Cistercians starting and building, when they built up to 70 monasteries by 1134 (Gildas, 1908). The golden age was the period when the Cistercian congregations and monasteries took off. Several congregations and monasteries that existed before the Citeaux became affiliated to it (Gildas, 1908). Everyone wanted become a Cistercian because they were praised and honored for their beneficial agricultural labors, Christian charity, great wealth that was expended to their country and great intellectual labor (Gildas, 1908). The decline was the period when the Cistercian monasteries became too distant and started declining order like the spirit of dissension (Gildas, 1908). This was a problem because the Fathers stopped making regular visits to all the houses of filiations (Gildas, 1908). Due to the congregations separated from the Citeaux, the Cistercians became under strict observance until the Fathers of the Strict Observance claimed no reform was possible and passed a sentence in 1634 (Gildas, 1908). During the restoration period a reform inaugurated until the French Revolution and finally on July 30th 1902 an Apostiolic Constitution of Leo XIII solemnly confirmed restoration of the Cistercians (Gildas, 1908)!
There are different topics related to the Cistercians that explain what they were all about, what they believed, practiced and how they practiced. The Cistercians had a close relationship with God and a strong contribution to the community. After giving a brief introduction of the Cistercians, it is time to see some arguments authors have on Cistercians. Different Cistercian authors and twelfth century authors had different arguments about the Cistercians religion, spirituality and love for their community.
The Cistercians had a strong connection with God and practiced maternal imagery. Cistercians were so close to God that they detached themselves from the world in order to fully unite with God. Different authors contribute their argument in Caroline Bynum’s article Jesus As Mother And Abbot As Mother to discuss the topic of maternal imagery along side with Bynum’s argument. Let’s start by saying Bynum argues that the use of maternal imagery was widespread in the twelfth-century and the image was very complex (Bynum, 1977). What this maternal imagery meant to the Cistercians was that God was their mother. Cistercians maternal imagery was related to their concern with dependence and independence (Bynum, 1977). Cistercians renounced dependence on the world and used maternal imagery in order to be closer to God (Bynum, 1977).
There are different arguments about the Cistercians use of maternal imagery. Bernard of Clairvaux argued maternal imagery was associated with breast like a symbol of pouring affection (Bynum, 1977). Unlike Bernard, William of Saint-Thierry argued Christ feeds the individual soul and God should not be referenced as a mother (Bynum, 1977). Similar to Bernard, Guerric abbot of Igny argues motherhood describes the relationship of Christ (Bynum, 1977). Guerric also mentions images of pregnancy and the womb by saying the heart is in the womb and the soul is formed into bowels of God the father (Bynum, 1977). Anselm of Bec argues Jesus is nurturing and that mother Jesus revives the soul at her breast like a mother with a baby (Bynum, 1977). Like Anselm, Adam abbot of Perseigne argues Jesus is nurturing but he also argues the image of giving birth is restricted to the soul’s fertility in good works (Bynum, 1977). Like Bynum, Aelred of Rievaulx argues the connection is drawn between detachment from the world and union with both neighbors and God, meaning Cistericans had a relationship with God and their neighbors (Bynum, 1977). What these arguments conclude is that Cistercians did use maternal imagery and did have dependence with God as their nurturer, and Cistercians did exclude themselves from the world to have successful maternal imagery. Different authors had different arguments about maternal imagery but they can all agree that Cistercians lived a very spiritual and religious life, whether they were for or against Cistercians use of maternal imagery.
The Cistercians had strong relationships with the community and their brothers. Cistercians were always focused on being closer to God and part of their belief was to love your brother to provide growth. Different authors contribute their argument in Caroline Bynum’s article The Cistercian Conception Of Community An Aspect Of Twelfth-Century Spirituality to discuss the topic of brotherly love and behavior along with Bynum’s argument. Bynum argues that Cistercians had brotherly love in their accounts of growth towards God (Bynum, 1975). The problem was that the twelfth-century did not have an interest for brotherly love. The other problem was the different beliefs between the monks. When this issue happened it was called the “crisis of cenobitism” because there was a reform movement within monasticism which caused a turn away from communal life (Bynum, 1975). The Cistercians wanted good relationships among brothers and wanted communal life back.
There are different arguments about the Cistercians sense of brotherly love and behavior within the community. Unlike Bynum, an author named Butler argued that black monks described the behavior of brothers within the cloister to not stress relationships or brotherly love, but focus on the obedience to the rule or one’s superiors more (Bynum, 1975). Authors Bernard, William, Aelred, Adam and Stephen argued that Cistercians had relationships between many groups within the community and they believed interpersonal relationships were an incentive to compassions and learning humility (Bynum, 1975). Bernard of Clairvaux argues that the love of one’s neighbor brings joy, and the monastic community provides an opportunity for growth in humility by concealing ones own virtue and rejoicing the virtue of your neighbor (Bynum, 1975). Aelred of Rievaulx argues that one grows closer to God by loving your neighbor and closeness to one neighbor is an incentive to grow in virtue (Bynum, 1975). Peter of Celle argues the monks can learn from one another but they do not stress relationships among brothers (Bynum, 1975). Monks believe relations with brothers could contribute to emotional change within the soul (Bynum, 1975). Unlike Bynum, Adam of Perseigne and Stephen of Salley argue that obedience is an opportunity to imitate the conduct of your brothers so you can grow emotionally with God (Bynum, 1975).
To conclude this argument about Cistercians practice of brotherly love, Bynum argues that Cistercians emphasize emotional development and they permeated religious life (Bynum, 1975). Some of the authors in Bynum’s article agree on brotherly love and others are against it. The good thing about this argument is that it shows the differences between the monks and Cistercians practices while arguing why the community should or should not practice brotherly love. The article concludes that Cistercians had brotherly love and a sense of community and it also shows in the twelfth-century there were different practices in the community.
I think Cistercians are good people and they contributed to the community in a lot of ways. Cistercians had a wonderful commitment and relationship with God. Cistercians practiced brotherly love which by seeing all of the arguments on brotherly love and behavior, I think Cistercians were well liked and respected partly because they practiced brotherly love. I do not agree completely with the use of maternal imagery but there are portions of the practice that I agree with. I think the human mother who gives birth to a baby is that person’s nurturer, but I do see how Jesus has many nurturing characteristics and how the Cistercians can refer to Jesus as a mother and father.