Category: Cistercians

CARD FRONT OF CHARITY (Prior Charter of Charity)

cistercensi porticoEdited by Geoffrey father Screws, Ordine Cistercense

The Charter of Charity (1119), o Charta Caritatis (Latin expression that means the Charter of Charity), is a legislative text Cistercian, Originally written by St. Stephen Harding with the aim to regulate the relationship between the government and the monasteries of the Order of the entire group of abbeys.

Even before the Cistercian abbeys began to multiply, Abbot Stephen and his brothers settled that were not absolutely abbeys founded in any diocese, but before the bishop had accepted a decree written and signed between the monastery of Citeaux and the other based on it, in order to avoid disagreements between the bishops and the monks themselves. Therefore, in this decree, i suddetti fratelli, for the purpose of not undermining the future mutual peace, showed, established and handed down to their posterity in what condition and in what way, indeed, with which charity their monks, physically separated in the abbeys scattered in different parts of the world, were indissolubly united in the spirit. They decided also that this script was called Charter of Charity, as its Statutes, rejecting any type of collection, is based solely on the charity and the good of souls in things both divine and human.

Chapter One
As we all recognize that we servi, although unnecessary, only one true King, Lord and Master, we do not impose any tax on goods or materials or on the temporal things of our brethren who abbots and monks God, in his goodness, wants to reunite in several monasteries under a regular discipline itself through us that we are the most worthless of men. In fact eager of benefit to them and to all the children of the holy Church, we do not want to aggravate the tax, nor diminish their resources, so at the expense of enriching their poverty, we become guilty of the vice of avarice that, According to the Apostle, is a real idolatry. However, we want, in virtue of charity, store for the care of their souls, so that, when it began to deviate, God forbid, also only slightly from the primitive resolution and observance of the Holy Rule, can, with our concern, return to righteousness of life.

Chapter Two
Now we will and command them to observe all the Rule of St. Benedict as is observed in the New Monastery. They do not change the sense in reading the Holy Rule, but as interpreted and observed our predecessors, cioè i santi padri, monks of the New Monastery, and today we interpret it and observe it, as well as they interpret and comply.

Chapter Three
Since we welcome in our monastery all their monks and their, similarly, Our welcome in their monasteries, it seems therefore appropriate to, rather it is our desire that the customs, singing, and all the books needed for the canonical hours day and night and the Mass are consistent with those of the New Monastery, so that in the way we act, there is no discrepancy, but we live in the same charity, with the same rule and the same customs.

Chapter Four
Then, when the abbot of the New Monastery will be to visit any of these monasteries, the abbot of the place, as a sign of subjection to the Cistercian monastery that is the mother, will be replaced throughout the. The abbot of the New Monastery (Cîteaux) on his arrival will take the place of the abbot visited and the host will retain until. During his stay he will not eat with the guests, but in the refectory with the monks to maintain discipline, unless the abbot of the place was not absent. All the abbots of our Order, who will visit an abbey founded by their, will do the same. In the event that you encounter more abbots, and the abbot of the place was absent, the first of them (in order of foundation) eat with the guests. The exception is one thing: will be the abbot of the place, even in the presence of the abbot Major, to admit his novices to the profession after the trial period. In addition, the abbot of the New Monastery you look hard enough not to interfere in the regular and dispose of the assets of the monastery to be visited, against the wishes of the local abbot and monks. If we detect that in some monastery occur abuses against the requirements of the Rule, or against the provisions of the Order, will seek to resume charitably with the cooperation of the local abbot. Although the local abbot was absent, nevertheless correct the problems that have discovered.

Chapter Five
Once a year the abbot of the mother-visit all the monasteries he founded. If he will visit most frequently brothers, these shall rejoice more.

Chapter Six
When some of our Order was abbot of the New Monastery him the honors due to be made. Occupy the abbot's stall, if these were absent, receive guests and eat with them. If this is, do nothing of what was said, but eat in the communal dining hall. The prior of the place take care of the affairs of the monastery.

Chapter Seven
All the abbots of these monasteries once a year, unanimously determined that the day will, will go to the New Monastery. Here you will address the health of their souls and their communities. Will instruct the observance of the Holy Rule or (Le custom) dell'Ordine, if there was something to be corrected or added, between them and reestablish peace and fraternal charity. If there was any abbot little too zealous in the observance of the Rule or intent or secular affairs was found in something vicious, here is taken up in chapter charitably. One who has been called up to ask for forgiveness and perform the penance enjoined that will. This rebuke is done exclusively by the abbots. Se poi, for case, some abbey had come to be in extreme poverty, the abbot of that place make this case to the entire chapter. Then each abbot, on the largest charity, hasten to lift the poverty of the abbey with the assets given by God to each, according to their own resources.

Chapter Eight
When poi, thank God, one of our abbeys has taken such a development and be able to afford a new foundation, the monks of the abbey said between them will look the same constitution that we observe among us. We want, however, for us, and we believe that all the abbots from all parts of the New Monastery are the appointed day and here you agree to abide by all directives of the abbot of Citeaux and the chapter in the resume and shortcomings in establishing the observance of the holy Rule and Order. There is, however, the annual chapter between them and those who have founded abbeys. Se poi, at times, a disease or the admission of novices to the monastic profession prevented to some of our abbots to show up on the appointed day at a place determined, there sends in his stead his prior, which take care of to justify the absence chapter of his abbot. Finally, everything will be fixed or changed report it, in monastero, to his abbot and the brothers. If anyone, however,, for any other reason, presume not to attend the general chapter, the next chapter will apologize for the absence of the previous year and will make the satisfaction, for slight negligence, all the time that the president of the chapter deems it appropriate.

Chapter Nine
When it became known that some abbot despises the rule or the Order, or who consents to the vices of the brothers entrusted to him, the abbot of the New Monastery them take care - either personally or through the prior of the abbey own or by letter - up to four times to warn that person so that we amend. If you despise these measures then the abbot of the mother abbey worry of making known his mistake to the bishop in whose diocese is located (the monastery) and the clerics of the same church. They should send the accused to call and, diligently discussing the case with the abbot said, or lead him to amend or, if it appears incorrigible, remove him from the pastoral care If the bishop and clergy, not giving weight to the transgression of the holy Rule occurred in that monastery, did not want to correct or depose, then the abbot of the New Monastery and some other of our congregation that he carries with him, might come to the monastery, and remove from office the transgressor of the holy Rule. The monks of this place, the presence and with the advice of the abbots, you elect another who is worthy. Se poi, the abbot and monks of that monastery despised the abbots who went and did not want to even amend the authority of these, then these abbots offenders to inflict excommunication. If later, some of these perverse, wising up and wanting to avoid the death of his soul wanted to change their lives for the better and come to live with his mother, that is, the New Monastery, be accepted as a monaco, son of the abbey. Without these reasons, and our monks will do everything to avoid them, we do not receive any of these monaco our abbeys to dwell with us, without the consent of his abbot, and they do not take in our dwelling from their. We do not send our monks to dwell in other abbeys, if their abbot does not allow, or send their in our. If then the abbots of our abbeys saw their mother, that is, the New Monastery grow warm in their holy purpose rettissima deviate from the path of the holy Rule of the Order or, admonish the abbot of the place up to four times because it corrects. The decision is taken by the three coabati, e cioè di La Ferté, Pontigny and Clairvaux, acting on behalf of all others. They accomplish this task with care, about him, everything having to do that we have established for the other abbots you absent yourself from the Rule, except that they will not replace a more resigned himself to resign if, nor to strike him with excommunication if he will not resign. However,, if they did not accept their advice, not linger to make known to the bishop and the clergy of the Church of Chalon (in whose diocese is located Citeaux), his obstinacy. Ask to be conducted in their presence and, After discussing the accusation, or restore him to his office and amended throughout, or remove it from the pastoral care as incorrigible. Once removed, the brethren of that place three or more messengers to send directly abbeys founded by the New Monastery and convene within fifteen days, many abbots will be able to, and with their help and advice is to elect a new abbot, as God will have prepared. The Abate di La Ferte, meanwhile, preside in that community, or until this is returned to the same pastor, repented of his error with the help of God, or is entrusted to another, regularly elected in his place. If the bishop and clergy of the said city were negligent in proceeding against the offender in the way we have established, then all the abbots of the monasteries founded by the New Monastery directly visting the site of the transgression, remove from office the same transgressor of the holy Rule, and soon the monks of Citeaux, to their presence and with their advice, if the eleggano Abate. Se poi, the guilty abbot and his monks do not wish to receive our abbots and obey their, not afraid to hit them with the sword of excommunication and separate from the body of the Catholic Church. If, following any of these sinners, finally ravvedutosi and eager to save his soul, took refuge in one of three abbeys, e cioè La Ferte, a Pontigny o a Clairvaux, will be received as a member and co-heir of that monastery until it is returned, as it should, to his abbey once the reconciliation of. In the meantime, however,, the annual chapter of the abbots not be held in the New Monastery, but where they will have established the three abbots mentioned above.

Chapter Ten
This will be the law of the abbeys not united by ties of Trustees. Ogni abate, in all places of his monastery to give priority to his brother abbot who will visit, so that the word might be fulfilled: In honor each other Prevenitevi. If they were two or more abbots, the eldest in order of foundation will place the most remarkable. All, however,, except the abbot of the place, take meals in the refectory, as we said above; elsewhere then, everywhere should keep together its order, according to the precedence of the abbeys, so that will be the first one whose abbey is the oldest, unless one of them does not wear liturgical garments. In this case precede all in the choir of the left, and perform all the ceremonies of the first, even if it were the youngest. Wherever you gather, should greet one another with a bow.

Chapter Eleven
The brothers of the New Monastery, the death of their abbot send, as we said above, three or more messengers, if they wish, the other abbots and bring together, within fifteen days, how many more will abbots and with their consent shall elect the pastor that God has wanted. Meanwhile, the Abate di La Ferté, as we said above for other circumstances, takes place throughout the Abbot deceased until it will be another elected that, with God's help, take delivery of the monastery and the government of the same place. Also in other monasteries, private, for any reason of their pastor, the brothers of this place, invite the abbot of the abbey which he founded and, in his presence and with his advice, are elected as abbot of one of their brothers, or the New Monastery or another of our abbeys. In fact, it is not permissible to take a Cistercian abbot of the abbeys that do not belong to the Order or to give to others, for this purpose, their monks. They should welcome instead, senza ritrosie, any person who will elect the monks from a monastery any of our Order.

The privilege of Pope Callistus bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the beloved sons in Christ, the venerable abbot and his monks Stefano, health and apostolic benediction. For disposal of Providence, we have been promoted to the government of the Apostolic See in order to increase, with God's help, religion and to promote our authority with everything that has been undertaken in the way of compassion for the salvation of souls. Therefore, beloved children in Christ, accondiscendiamo us with your request with all charity and we welcome with fatherly affection of your religious spirit, confirming with the seal of our authorities the work that you have undertaken. Also, with the agreement and the joint decision of the abbots, of your monasteries of monks and bishops in whose dioceses are these monasteries, we have established a number of regulations relating to the observance of the Rule of St. Benedict and some other point that it was necessary to determine the Order and in the interests of the monastery of Citeaux. And you have requested that, for the harmony of your monastery and for the safety of religious observance, were confirmed by the Apostolic See. Therefore, congratulating your progress in the Lord, we confirm with our authority these regulations and the constitution; also declare that this approval is valid for all. Expressly, in all ways, we decree that none of the abbots can receive your religious without permission. If any ecclesiastical or secular was rash enough to stand up against our consent and against our statutes, to the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and our, we we hit with excommunication until it will amend, as a disturber of the peace religion and monastic.
But the one who will have defended to receive the grace and blessing of Almighty God and his holy Apostles.
Finally forbid anyone to host your laybrothers or practice.
Io Callisto, Bishop of the Catholic Church, I confirmed. End of the Charter of Charity.


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The program was to return to the Cistercian Read more


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After the canonization of Galgano, occurred in 1185, the Cistercian monks of Casamari, with the support of the Bishop of Volterra Ugo Saladini, they built in honor of the same a real monastery. Around the 1218, a little further downstream, in the plain of the Merse, began the construction of the abbey. To give impetus to this work was above all the enormous wealth that the monks were able to raise through donations, bequests and especially the ecclesiastical concessions. In the middle of the thirteenth century the abbey of San Galgano became, in Toscana, most Read more