Light in the darkness


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Cluny Abbey

The 10th century is a period where the Church still strives to complete the conversion of the European regions and where the secular / feudal practices intervene in her mission. In this climate, in 910 A.D. the abbey of Cluny in Burgundy (France) is founded.

The Cluny Abbey has been the centre of the monastic reform which spread throughout Europe as well as the centre of many worthy monastic movements. Cluny avoided the entanglement with secular lords, being accountable to the Pope alone. Indeed, it developed very close ties with the Holy See and four Popes came from four of its abbots.

Cluny was founded by Benedictine monks who ardently desired to live according to Saint Benedict’s rule as faithfully as possible. What characterized them, in particular, was their committment to ceaseless prayer. They, also, put particular emphasis on the liturgy and on the spiritual works on top of the manual work and all the other usual activities of a monastery. Another reform has been the system of daughter-monasteries (priories) the abbots of which would frequently report to the abbot of Cluny and they would meet once a year. It was a system which worked very well.

So, in the tenth century, the Abbey of Cluny offers spiritual nourishment, guidance and shelter in an unstable world without order and, by the end of the eleventh century, its spirituality had spread everywhere and traversed the entire society. This is the era when Christianity won the heart of Europe.

At the height of its influence, Cluny numbered 10,000 monks. Its church was the bigest Christian edifice in the world, until the 16th century when Saint Peter’s basilica was built in Rome.

During the French Revolution (1789 A.D.) the order was persecuted and the Abbey was demolished. The Abbey was sold as state property and was used as a quarry. It has been systematically destroyed until 1823 A.D.

In 1098 Pope Urban II called it “the Light of the world”!


In the photograph one can see some of the remaining ruins. Other parts survived, but what remains important is its spiritual contribution which sealed for ever the people and the society of its times.

Continual reform

The Church being an institution “not of this world”, but living and acting in this world, has to continually strive to keep free from the influences of the world.on the one hand, and to speak the language of this world on the other, so that she transmit the Gospel.

For that reason it is in the Church’s nature to be all the time renewed and to be searching new ways of expressing the faith.Reform from within is not the exception but rather the rule.

The in-depth study of the history of the Church confirms the above from the first Apostolic times to our days.

All the baptized have the obligation to pursue their personal spiritual growth not only for their own sake but for the building up of God’s kingdom.

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6, 18).


Did you know…

From the time of the Christian Frankish kings the acclamation “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”,(Christ is victorious, Christ reigns, Christ commands), became the constant acclamation during their coronation ceremony. Afterward followed the invocation of the Holy Trinity and the litany of the Saints.

For a number of years Vatican Radio Station transmitted the very same acclamation as its musical signal. These simple words contain a basic core of our faith and remind us that in  the centre of our faith there is Christ, victorious, king and Lord.

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