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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

View Movies The guestmaster

The guestmaster, or hosteller as he was known, was a monastic official (obedientiary) who was in charge of the guest complex. He was helped by at least one lay-brother. After visitors had been formally received by the porter and taken to pray and receive the kiss of peace from brothers appointed by the abbot, they were shown to the guesthouse where the guestmaster tended them until their departure. Any communication between visitors and the community was mediated by the guestmaster; for instance, if a visitor was ill or about to die the guestmaster notified the prior or whoever was responsible. One of the guestmaster’s duties concerned the preparation of the Maundy of the guests, when the visitors’ feet were ceremoniously washed in the cloister. Each week several monks were appointed to help him. The guestmaster was also involved with the proceedings on Maundy Thursday when a number of poor folk were led into the cloister for the symbolic washing of their feet, and thereafter refreshed in the hospice. Like the other officials the guestmaster was granted concessions on account of his duties. For example, he was permitted to speak with everyone who ate or slept in the guesthouse and was exempted from various claustral activities if he was at that time engaged with guests.