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Citeaux and the Cistercians.

criticism of Cluny was taken up by the Cistercians. But this time, under the aegis of Saint Bernard, the denunciation took on a scale unseen.

Violent aggression came at a time when everyone, particularly the Pope, sought to belittle the congregation of Cluny, which had become too powerful and too proud.

When Bernard de Fontaine entered Cîteaux in 1112, the monastery founded by Robert de Molesmes in 1098 was in a difficult period. Bernard advocated the measure which alone allowed the elevation of the spirit. He rejected Cluny whose pomp was an insult to the poor, but also because it flattered the pride of the monks and harmed their only legitimate goal: to find God through Scripture.

If Cîteaux was working for a reform of monasticism, it did not, however, propose to question the foundations of the institution.  The residents intended to comply with what had proven its worth and, first of all, the Benedictine rule.

It was not a question of inventing but of returning to original purity: withdrawal from the world, a return to the Rule of Saint Benedict, personal elevation. At the beginning of the 12th century, Cîteaux sparked a wave of conversions in chivalrous society. The Cistercians initially rejected the Cluniac model and asserted their right to their possessions.  They cultivated and produced themselves, selling the fruit of their labor on the markets, remaining isolated and practicing little charity towards third parties. Centuries passed, donations and riches accumulated, splendor developed (liturgy, architecture ...).

Over the centuries the Cistercians had faced many internal, societal and social upheavals (internal dissensions, disagreements with Clairvaux, economic setbacks, the Black Death, the Hundred Years War, wars of religion, rise of nationalism during the Renaissance ...). These events disrupted the proper functioning of the institutions and provoked the appearance of national or regional Congregations (not without resistance from the central authority) which endeavored to take up the task of recovery that the supreme authority had tried to do in vain.

Some believed that the sense of the values ​​of simplicity and purity initially advocated had been lost. Disputes over observance arose and undermined the unity of the movement.

In France, before the Revolution, there was no question of cutting oneself off from Cîteaux, to which we were relatively close. However, at the very beginning of the 17th century, the Order was divided between Reformed monasteries (known as the narrow Observance) and non-reformed monasteries (known as the Commune Observance). A few years later, the "Trappists" would be born ...

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