Cistercian Monks

The Cistercian Order is a name of a monastic order, that was founded in France under the leadership of Saint Bernhard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). The first Cistercian monastery was founded in 1098 in Citeaux and the order was named thereafter.

The Cistercian Order was an aesthetic order that valued the spiritual benefits of hard physical labour. The Cistercians deliberately chose to set up their monasteries in areas far from civilization where they cleared forests and put wasteland into cultivation. The Cistercians lived under the rule of "Ora et labora", which means prayer and work. The Cistercians were also called the white monks, not to be confused with white brothers or Carmelite Order. The Cistercians became great landowners and an incredibly wealthy order. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Cistercians were far from the order of simple monks envisioned by Bernard of Clairvaux.  

The Cistercian Order came to Denmark in 1144 by the request of Archbishop Eskild of Lund. There were 12 Cistercian monasteries in Denmark of which the most important one was Esrum. After the reformation of 1536, the Cistercians suffered the same fate as the other monastic orders and their monasteries were dissolved by the Crown. Today, the best surviving monasteries can be found in Esrum, Løgum, Sorø, Veng, Vitskøl and Øm. The monastic ruins at Øm contains a museum detailing the life of the monastery.

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