Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Cluniacs in Scotland

Dom Donald at Nunraw has copied my post on Cluny on his blog, and I will repay the compliment by circulating his post on Scottish Cluniac houses.

Cluniac 11th Centenary

Celebrating Scotland ’s place in Europe ’s Cluniac heritage on the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of the Abbey of Cluny, Burgundy.

The Programme

14th - 16th May, 2010

Craft Fair, Medieval Fair,

Children’s bowling competition,

Concerts, Coach tours, Exhibitions,

Conference, Historic re-enactments

Paisley Abbey

Paisley Abbey was founded in 1163 by Walter FitzAlan, an Anglo-Breton who brought monks to establish the community around the shrine to a local saint, St. Mirin. (St. Mirren – Scottish Football League).

For more information…

Saturday 15th May: Concert with organ and choir The glorious interior of Paisley Abbey will be the backdrop for a concert with a strong French theme.

Sunday 16th May: Service

Morning Service for Ascensiontide celebrating Cluny 2010

Guest Preacher
The Right Reverend Philip Tartaglia Roman Catholic Bishop of Paisley

Choral Music to include:
Te Deum (Howells – Collegium Regale)
God is gone up Finzi


Historical Background

In 909 or 910, William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine, founded a Benedictine abbey at Cluny in Burgundy . Two hundred and fifty years later the abbey was at the head of some 1,400 Cluniac establishments in France , Italy , Germany , Switzerland , Spain , Portugal , Belgium , England and Scotland .

For anyone interested in the history of Europe , the work of the Cluniacs cannot be overlooked. Their values remain relevant today: actions to promote peace, caring for the socially deprived and excluded, a sense of beauty. Varied architecture, a distinctive musical form, sculptures and paintings all form part of the fabulous heritage handed down to us by the monks.

La Fédération des Sites Clunisiens (Federation of Cluniac Sites) was founded in 1994 with a threefold objective: to forge close links between sites, enhance their Cluniac heritage and support their initiatives through action in the fields of education, culture and tourism. Several hundred people – elected representatives and private owners, cultural and tourism associations – are actively involved in the pursuit of these objectives. The Federation gives its backing to all their activities with the help of an international patronage committee bringing together researchers, archaeologists and historians. The Cluniac sites belonging to the Federation have now been organised into trans-regional and transnational itineraries.

As a result, a new European cultural and tourist network is growing, following in the footsteps of the monks of Cluny . Scotland ’s two sites, Paisley , founded in 1163 and Crossraguel in Ayrshire, founded c.1250, will be the focus of Scottish celebrations.

Today, Paisley Abbey is a living Christian community in the cherishing care of the Church of Scotland.

Crossraguel Abbey which was the last monastery to survive the Reformation of 1560 (the last monk died in 1601), is in the scrupulous care of Historic Scotland.


On Tuesday we celebrated the Mass in Memory of the Holy Abbots of Cluny.
It is the eleventh centenary of the foundation and this year is marked by plentiful historical studies, Internet Links, and memorial events, not only of Cluny itself in Burguny, but of Cluniac sites over Europe.
In Scotland, Paisley Abbey is the main centre of celebrations.

May 11th.

Night Office Reading

Abbot Berno, together with the Duke of Aquitaine, founded Cluny on

  • 11th September 909. Within several decades it was in a flourishing condition. It was a monastery where monastic ideals were held in esteem and where the observance was good; a solitude where a monk could seek God and find God in prayer, penance and study. Such a house was rare indeed in the decadent years of the 'early tenth century, when monastic discipline had all but disappeared.

  • An important factor in the growth of Cluny was that it was ruled during its first two centuries by a succession of great abbots. These men were both saints and administrators; they shaped the destiny of their house with wisdom and prudence. Five of them stand out in bold relief: Odo, Mayeul, Odilo, Hugh and Peter the Venerable. Odo gave the house its spiritual character, his dynamic personality established the course it was to take. Before he died he appointed an abbot-coadjutor to help him in his duties; this was Aynard, who was duly elected abbot after Odo'sdeath. There was precedent for this, for Odo himself had been appointed by Berno a little before he died. Aynard in his turn appointedMayeul to be coadjutor and his successor with the approval of the community. Mayeul nominatedOdilo to succeed him. Odilo died without appointing a successor and Hugh, his prior for some years, was elected by the community, thus bringing to an end a practice which, although directly counter to theRule of St. Benedict, gave Cluny a succession of outstanding spiritual leaders. Hugh was to rule for sixty years. After a lapse of thirteen years, during which Pons was abbot followed by Hugh II, the community elected Peter the Venerable, who was a worthy successor of Hugh I. He united both the spiritual leadership and the outstanding human qualities of his predecessors. He ruled as abbot from 1122-1156.

  • Cluny was still a flourishing community after the time of Peter the Venerable in the second half of the twelfth century. To the abiding value of its monastic ideal and its way of life at that time we could scarcely find a more impartial or more appreciative witness than the Carthusian monk-Bishop, St.Hugh of Lincoln . His biographer Adam tells us that, after the Carthusians, the monks of Cluny were the dearest to him because they cultivated the silent life of the cloister and turned their busy leisure to spiritual profit.
    When in old age he visited Cluny in 1200, he was struck by the good Order that reigned there in the choir, in the cloister and in the refectory. He was admitted to share their life in community for three days, to celebrate Mass and before he left he said to the Abbot: ‘
    Truly, if I had seen this place before I fell in love with the Carthusians, I should have become a monk of Cluny .

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