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The Cistercians in Yorkshire title graphic

The infirmary
Plan of Rievaulx abbey showing the location of the warming house(1/3)

The infirmary complex at Rievaulx stood to the east of the main cloister. It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, making it one of the earliest in Britain.The infirmary complex essentially functioned as a monastery in miniature. It was physically set apart from the heart of the monastery, but connected by passages to the claustral area. Furthermore, it was dependent on the abbey for provisions, as well as service books and bedding; once these had been received the infirmary could operate independently.

Miraculous healings
In the early thirteenth century a monk of Rievaulx was said to have suffered so greatly from the *mal des ardents that the pain drove him to amputate his own foot. Fortunately the Virgin, the patron of the Order, came to his rescue and restored his foot to its former glory.
*Mal des ardents: a streptococcal infection causing inflammation which raged through France 1128-1129.
[Cited in Cassidy-Welch, Monastic Spaces and their Meanings, p. 147]

Similarly, while the inmates here were removed from the rest of the community and granted concessions, they were first and foremost monks. Accordingly, they were expected to observe the rules of the Order, to follow the daily routine of conventual life as much as they were able, and they were subject to correction.

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