The Cistercian order is the heir of the first Cîteaux through its prestigious abbeys, in particular those in Germany and Austria. These countries were pretty much spared the revolutionary turmoil. Thus, in certain abbeys monastic life was never interrupted since their foundation. However, in the 18th century, Emperor Joseph II of Austria compelled these monasteries to take on pastoral work, under threat of being closed. This is why the Cistercian Order gathers diverse monasteries, some who have charge of schools, some parishes and some hospitals. Consequently, intellectual formation is largely favored. Other monasteries of the Order leave a life that is fully contemplative. In order to take account of such diversity, the Cistercian Order is organized into different congregations. It is principally within these congregations that monasteries offer each other pastoral support.

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