Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cluny Abbey was founded September 11, 910 - This Week in Christian History for the week of September 8-14, 2013

On 11th September 910, William I, Duke of Aquitaine founded Cluny Abbey. He had gained power through inheritance and a series of wars and his lands stretched from Austrasia to Toulouse (in France). At the time most monasteries were privately owned, however he made the abbey responsible only to the pope. This meant that his family couldn’t nominate abbots and other officials.

William I nominated Berno as the first abbot of Cluny. Berno had been a monk at St. Martin’s Abbey and was later sent to Baume Abbey to reform it. He held Cluny Abbey to the Benedictine Rule. Although the rule would become the main rule of monasteries during the middle ages, it was not intended for monasteries in the modern sense of the word; it was intended to be a rule for communities.

This was the first of the Cluniac Reforms. The reforms were necessary because of widespread corruption in the Church. One of the most common was called Simony, or paying to receive sacraments. The most common form of this was to pay for a position within the church. Since a monastery required land, it needed to be sanctioned by the local lord. The lord would demand rights that interfered with religious duties. The lord might also want his associates and family appointed to posts.

The Cluniac Reforms spread through France and into England, Spain and Italy. In the end more than a thousand monasteries adopted the new format. This enabled the monasteries to follow the Rule of Saint Benedict more strictly.

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Thank you for reading.