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Cistercians

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Ceneca
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« on: September 23, 2007, 03:01:48 am »

The Reformation, the ecclesiastical policy of Joseph II, the French Revolution, and the revolutions of the 18th century, almost wholly destroyed the Cistercians; but some survived, and since the beginning of the last half of the 19th century there has been a considerable recovery. Gandhi visited a Trappist abbey near Durban in 1895 and wrote an extensive description of the order.

At the beginning of 20th century they were divided into three bodies:

*The Common Observance, with about 30 monasteries and 800 choir monks, the large majority being in Austria-Hungary; they represent the main body of the order and follow a mitigated rule of life; they do not carry on field-work, but have large secondary schools, and are in manner of life little different from fairly observant Benedictine Black Monks; of late, however, signs are not wanting of a tendency towards a return to older ideals;
*The Middle Observance, embracing some dozen monasteries and about 150 choir monks;
*The Strict Observance, or Trappists, with nearly 60 monasteries, about 1600 choir monks and 2000 lay brothers.
In all there are about 100 Cistercian monasteries and about 4700 monks, including lay brothers. There has always been a large number of Cistercian nuns; the first nunnery was founded at Tart in the diocese of Langres, 1125; at the period of their widest extension there are said to have been 900 nunneries, and the communities were very large. The nuns were devoted to contemplation and also did field-work. In Spain and France certain Cistercian abbesses had extraordinary privileges. Numerous reforms took place among the nuns. The best known of all Cistercian convents was probably Port-Royal, reformed by Angélique Arnaud, and associated with the story of the Jansenist controversy. After all the troubles of the 19th century there still exist 100 Cistercian nunneries with 3000 nuns, choir and lay; of these, 15 nunneries with 900 nuns are Trappist.
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