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Chapter IV

Chapter III: Clunaic Benedictines


In 1122 Peter the Venerable was Abbot of Clugny, and in a controversy which he held with St. Bernard, Abbot of the rival house of Citeaux, he gives many particulars regarding the Clunaics and their mode of life; [11] but a more interesting account of the interior economy of the monastery is given in a letter to a friend by a Monk Ulric, who belonged to the convent, and who tells at length how he and his companions lived from day to day.[12] There is but one part of his most interesting narrative to which we may refer, namely, to the constant study of the Scriptures which occupied the time of the brethren. They read the Bible alternately with the writings of the fathers. The winter evenings at Clugny were spent in listening to large portions of the Word of God. The book of Genesis was read through in a week, Isaiah in six evenings, and the Epistle to the Romans at two sittings. The Acts of the Apostles in Easter week. “When one of the monks who portioned out the lessons,” says Ulric, “had made them shorter, he was prohibited by our seniors in chapter.” Every monk had the Psalms by heart and was able to say them from memory. This is a most pleasing picture in the life of the brethren, and there is little reason to doubt that the scene which Ulric describes in the Abbey of Clugny, was one which might constantly be witnessed in the humbler house of Paisley, the reader, seated in an elevated place, reading in the long winter night the Bible to his brethren on benches along the wall, while a monk went round with a wooden lantern, open on one side, to see if any were asleep. “Should he find any one asleep he must throw the light in his eyes three times, if on the third time he does not wake he must place the lantern before him, that when he is wakened he may take it up and carry it in like manner until he finds another sleeper like himself.”


[11] Maitland's Dark Ages, p. 1.
[12] ibid, p. 332.