Faithfulness and innovation

14th – 17th c.

After these flourishing beginnings, came a time of testing and persevering in faithfulness. Monastic life was followed, but it was not any longer in the forefront. Sometimes the wealth of monasteries made them the focus of power games, sometimes establishing monastic life could even bring along a spiritual numbness; however, the diminished visibility of spiritual practices was not necessarily a sign of decadence. In the course of centuries, through wars and social changes, the monks of Cîteaux lived, prayed, and worked. They continued to cultivate in an exemplary manner their properties: forests, ponds, and vines.


The abbot de Rancé

After the Council of Trent, a deep spiritual renewal appeared throughout the Church. In the Cistercian Order, it manifested itself in the 17th century in the movement of the Strict Observance. Some abbots worked to recover practices that had been abandoned: having dormitories rather than cells, abstaining from meat, insisting on silence and the Divine Office. They also introduced new spiritual practices (mental prayer or even pilgrimages). This movement stirred tensions between reformed monasteries and others: the sometimes stormy debates in this quarrel over observances took place in the Définitoire of Cîteaux.

The abbey of Cîteaux was then politically at stake and its role as center of unity for the Order was too important for it to take sides in this conflict.

During this movement of the Strict Observance, the figure of the abbot de Rancé emerged in particular: the strict reform that he put in place at La Trappe gave its name to the Trappists. Today’s monks of Cîteaux are its heirs. 

  • Manuscrit conservé à l’abbaye “Privilèges de l’Ordre cistercien”
    premier livre imprimé à Dijon en 1491. Photo : Ph. Maupetit
  • Plan géométral des bois de Cîteaux
    Dud. Cîteaux. Fait en 1542 ; Dijon, archives départementales de la Côte-d’Or, 11 H186
  • Aquarelle représentant l’abbaye au XVIIe siècle
  • Le cloître des copistes
  • Divinarum humanarum que rerum cognitio
    La connaissance des réalités divines et humaines
  • L’abbaye de Cîteaux vers 1720
    Maquette présentée aux visiteurs dans la salle de la bibliothèque
  • Le château du Clos de Vougeot
    Gravure XIXe siècle
  • Le château du Clos de Vougeot
    Dès le XIIème siècle les moines de l’abbaye de Cîteaux construisirent au milieu des vignes des bâtiments d’exploitations viticoles. L’édifice fut complété au XVIe par un corps de logis dans le plus pur style Renaissance
  • Les moines de Cîteaux en visite au château du Clos de Vougeot - ici dans l’ancienne Cuverie

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