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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

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The monastic official in charge of the novices, namely, men who wished to enter the monastic life but had first to undergo a one-year probationary period. This was known as the ‘novitiate’ and it was both a testing time and an instructive process. The novice-master had an important duty. He groomed the next generation of monks, teaching and instructing these men in the Cistercian way of life, to make them ‘worthy vessels of God and acceptable to the Order.’(1) He also offered care and support during difficult emotional periods. Aelred of Rievaulx officiated for a time as novice-master of Rievaulx and during this time completed one of his best-known works, the ‘Mirror of Charity’ [Speculum Caritatis]. This takes the form of a question/answer session between the novice-master/monk and a novice.