A cloister without literature is a grave for living men.
[Abbot Richard of Melrose]
Reading was an integral part of the
monastic day. Through meditating on the text, the monk could
enhance his spiritual development. At the start
of Lent, each monk was given a book for the year which he was to
read thoroughly during the daily period allocated to reading,
as stipulated in chapter 48
of the Rule of St Benedict.
Reading was not permitted to the lay-brothers,
who were generally illiterate.In the thirteenth century a more
formal approach was taken to education, and the Cistercians founded
a college, or studium,
in Paris, where members of the Order could receive a university
education in an appropriate environment. This was St Bernard’s College.
By the end of the thirteenth century, a studium had been
established in England,
at Oxford. This was Rewley College,
but it was later replaced by St Bernard’s
College, now known as St John ’s College Oxford.
In this section you
can find out more about the Cistercian studium at
about the history of the college, Cistercian
scholars of note who studied here and details of what
you can also
view samples of their books.
Surviving library catalogues from
Rievaulx Abbey shed considerable light on the abbey’s holdings in
the twelfth century.
Read more about library collection at Rievaulx.
A number of books
from Fountains Abbey are now preserved in the British Library.
View pages from five of these
books that were once part of the
Fountains library collection.