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BENEDICTINE


445


BENEDICTINE


(.moreover, to all the dangers and disturbances in- 6 separable from those troublous times of kingdom- making; such a system was ineWtably unable to keep worldhness, and even worse vices, wholly out of its midst. Hence it cannot be denied that the monks 4 often failed to live up to the monastic ideal and some- times even fell short of the Christian and moral stand- ards. There were failures and scandals in Benedic- tine history, just as there were declensions from the right path outside the cloister, for monks are, after all. but men. But there does not seem ever to have been a period of widespread and general corruption in the order. Here and there the members of some particular house allowed abuses and relaxations of rule to creep in. so that they seemed to be falling away from the true spirit of their state, but when- ever such did occur they soon called forth efforts for a restoration of primitive austerity; and these constantly recurring reform movements form one of the surest evidences of the \ntality which has pervaded the Benedictine Institute throughout its entire history. It is important to note, moreover, that all such reforms as ever achieved any meas- ure of success came invariably from within, and were not the result of pressure from outside the order.

The first of the reforms directed towards con- federating the monastic houses of a single kingdom was set on foot early in the ninth century by Benedict of Aniane under the auspices of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. Though a Benedictine himself, bom in Aquitaine and trained at Saint-Seine near Dijon. Benedict was imbued with the rigid austerity of the East, and in his Abbey of Aniane practised a mode of life that was severe in the extreme. Over Louis he acquired an ascendancy which grew stronger as years went on. At his instigation Louis built for him a monastery adjoining his own palace at Aix-la- Chapelle, which was intended to serve as a model according to which all others were to be reformed, and to bring about this end Benedict was invested with a general authority over all the monasteries of the empire. Absolute uniformity of discipline, ob- servance, and habit, after the pattern of the royal monasterj', was then the general scheme which was launched at an assembly of all the abbots at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) in 817 and embodied in a series ■of eighty capitula passed by the meeting. Though by reason of the very minuteness of these capitula, which made them vexatious and ultimately intoler- able, this scheme of centraUzed authority lasted only for the hfetirae of Benedict himself, the capitula (printed in full in Herrgott, " Vetus Disciplina Monas- tica ", Paris, 1726) were recognized as supplying a much needed addition to St. Benedict's Rule con- cerning points not sufficiently provided for therein, and as filling much the same place then as the ap- proved Constitutions of a monastery or congregation do now.

A century later, in 910, the first real reform that produced any widespread and general effect was commenced at the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, under St. Bemo, its first abbot. The object was an elaboration of the Benedictine ideal, for the uniform preservation of which a highly centraUzed system of government, hitherto unknown to Benedic- tine monachism, except as suggested by St. Benedict of Aniane, was introduced. It was in fact the es- tablishment of a veritable order, in the common acceptance of that term, within the Benedictine family, the abbot of Cluny retaining an actual head- ship over all dependent houses, the latter being gov- erned only by priors as his ^^cars. For two cen- turies or more Cluny was probably the chief religious influence in the Latin Church, as it was also the first abbey to obtain exemption from episcopal over- sight. Through the efforts of Bemo's immediate successors the congregation grew apace, partly by


founding new houses and partly by incorporating those already existing, so that by the twelfth centurj' Cluny had become the centre and head of an order embracing some 314 monasteries in all parts of Europe. France, Italy, the Empire, Lorraine, Spain, England, Scotland, and Poland. Although the con- gregation had its own constitutions and was absolutely autonomous, its members always claimed to be and were actually rec- ognized as real Benedi ct ines; hence it was not strictly a new order but only a re- formed congrega- tion within tiie or- der. (See Cluny.)

Following the example of Cluny, several other re- forms were ini- tiated from time to time in different parts during the next three cen- turies, which while taking the Rule of St. Benedict as a basis, aimed fre-

quentl}' at a greater austerity of life than was practised by the black monks or contemplated by the holy Rule. Some were even semi-eremitical in their constitution, and one — Fontevrault — consisted of double monasteries, the rehgious of both sexes being under the rule of the abbess. In dealing with these reformed congregations a distinction must be made between those which, like Cluny. continued to be considered as part of the main Benedictine body, and those which constituted practically new and independent orders, like Clteaux, and have always been looked upon as outside the Benedictine con- federation, though still professing the Rule of St. Benedict in some form or other. Those of the former category are treated here, since they and their suc- cessors constitute the order as we understand it at the present day. In the latter class the most im- portant were Camaldoli (1009), Vallombrosa (1039), Grammont (1076), Clteaux (1098), Fontevrault (1099), Savigny (1112), Monte Vergine (1119), Sylvestrines (1231), Celestines (12,54), and Olivetans (1319). All of these will be described in detail under the respective titles.

The influence of Cluny, even in monasteries which did not join its congregation or adopt any of the other reforms mentioned above, was large and far-reaching. Many such abbeys, including Subiaco and Monte Cassino, adopted its customs and practices, and modelled their Ufe and spirit according to the ex- ample it set. Monasteries such as these often be- came in turn the centres of revival and reform in their respective neighbourhoods, so that during the tenth and eleventh centuries there arose several free unions of monasteries based on a uniform observ- ance derivetl from a central abbey. These unions, the germ of the congregational system which de- veloped later on, deserve a somewhat detailed enumeration here. In England there had been three distinct efforts at systematic organization. The various monasteries founded by St. Augustine and his fellow-monks had preserved some sort of union, as was only natural with new foundations in a pagan country proceeding from a common source of origin. As Christianity spread through the land this necessity