Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/39

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ABBEY
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charge of the porter, who was assisted by the novices. St. Benedict so arranged that it should be a building distinct from the monastery itself, although within the enclosure. It had its own kitchen, served by two of the brethren appointed for that purpose annually; a refectory where the abbot took his meals with distinguished guests, and, when he thought fit, invited some of the seniors to join him there; an apartment for the solemn reception of guests, in which the ceremony of washing their feet, as prescribed by the Rule was performed by the abbot and his community; and a dormitory suitably furnished. Thus the guests received every attention due to them by the laws of charity and hospitality, and the community, while gaining the merit of dispensing them in a large-hearted way, through the appointed officials, suffered no disturbance of their own peace and quiet. It was usual for the buildings dedicated for hospitality to be divided into four: one for the reception of guests of distinction, another for poor travelers and pilgrims, a third for merchants arriving on business with the cellarer, and the last for monk-visitors.

Formerly, as now, monastic communities always and everywhere extended a generous hospitality to all comers as an important way of fulfilling their social duties; hence monasteries lying on or near the main highways enjoyed particular consideration and esteem. Where guests were frequent and numerous, the accommodation provided for them was on a commensurate scale. And as it was necessary for great personages to travel accompanied by a crowd of retainers, vast stables and other outhouses were added to these monastic hostels. Later xenodochia, or infirmaries, were attached to these guest-houses, where sick travelers could receive medical treatment. St. Benedict ordained that the monastic oratory should be what its name implied, a place exclusively reserved for public and private prayer. In the beginning it was a mere chapel, only large enough to hold the religious, since externs were not admitted. The size of these oratories were gradually enlarged to meet the requirements of the liturgy. There was also usually an oratory, outside the monastic enclosure, to which women were admitted.

The refectory was the common hall where the monks assembled for their meals. Strict silence was observed there, but during the meals one of the brethren read aloud to the community. The refectory was originally built on the plan of the ancient Roman triclinium, terminating in an apse. The tables were ranged along three sides of the room near the walls, leaving the interior space for the movements of the servers. Near the door of the refectory was invariably to be found the lavatory, where the monks washed their hands before and after meals. The kitchen, was, for convenience, always situated near the refectory. In the larger monasteries separate kitchens were provided for the community (where the brethren performed the duties in weekly turns), the abbot, the sick, and the guests. The dormitory was the community bed-chamber. A lamp burned in it throughout the night. The monks slept clothed, so as to be ready, as St. Benedict says, to rise without delay for the night Office. The normal arrangement, where the numbers permitted it, was for all to sleep in one dormitory, hence there were often very large; sometimes more than one was required. The practice, however, gradually came in of dividing the large dormitory into numerous small cubicles, one being allotted to each monk. The latrines were separated from the main buildings by a passage, and were always planned with the greatest regard to health and cleanliness, a copious supply of running water being used wherever possible.

Although St. Benedict makes no specific mention of a chapter-house, nevertheless he does order monks to "come together presently after supper to read the 'Collations.'" No chapter-house appears on the plan of the great Swiss monastery of St. Gall, dating back to the ninth century; in the early days, therefore, the cloisters must have served for the meetings of the community, either for instruction or to discuss the affairs of the monastery. But convenience soon suggested a special place for these purposes, and there is mention of chapter-rooms in the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle (817). The chapter-room was always on the cloister level, on to which it opened. The cloisters, though covered, were generally open to the weather, and were an adaptation of the old Roman atrium. Besides providing a means of communication between the various parts of the monastery, they were both the dwelling-place and the workshop of the monks, and thus the word cloister became a synonym for the monastic life. How the monks managed to live in these open galleries during the winter months, in cold climates, is a mystery; a room, called a "calefactory," heated by flues, or in which a fire was kept up, where the monks might retire occasionally to warm themselves, was provided in English monasteries. On the Continent the practice in regard to the novices differed somewhat from that prevailing in England. Not being as yet incorporated into the community, they were not permitted to dwell in the interior of the monastery. They had their places in choir during the Divine Office, but they spent the rest of their time in the novitiate. A senior monk, called the novice-master, instructed them in the principles of the religious life, and "tried their spirits if they be of God," as St. Benedict's Rule prescribed. This period of probation lasted a whole year. Abroad, the building set apart for the novices was provided with its own dormitory, kitchen, refectory, workroom, and occasionally even its own cloisters; it was, in fact, a miniature monastery within a larger one.

The infirmary was a special building set apart for the accommodation of the sick and infirm brethren, who there received the particular care and attention they needed, at the hands of those appointed to the duty. A herbal garden provided many of the remedies. When death had brought its reward, the monks were laid to rest in a cemetery within the monastic precincts. The honour of burial amongst the religious, a privilege highly esteemed, was also sometimes accorded bishops, royal personages, and distinguished benefactors.

No monastery was complete without its cellars for the storing of provisions. There were, in addition, the granaries, barns, etc., all under the care of the cellarer, as also such buildings and outhouses as were used for agricultural purposes. Gardens and orchards provided such vegetables and fruit as were cultivated in the Middle Ages. The work of the fields did not, however, occupy all the time of the monks. Besides cultivating the arts, and transcribing manuscripts, they plied many trades, such as tailoring, shoe-making, carpentering, etc., while others baked the bread for daily consumption. Most monasteries had a mill for grinding their own corn. It will thus be seen that an Abbey, especially if it maintained a large community, was a little city, self-contained and self-sufficing, as St. Benedict wished it to be, to obviate as far as possible any necessity for the monks to leave the enclosure. The enormous development of the monastic life brought in its train a similar development in the accommodation suitable for it. The monastic buildings, at first so primitive, grew in time till they presented a very imposing appearance; and the arts were requisitioned and ancient models of architecture copied, adapted, and modified. The Basilican plan, indigenous to Italy, was, naturally, that first adopted. Its churches consisted of a nave and aisles, lighted