Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cluny in the South -- the Abbey of Fontfroide

Drank too much at the fountain??!  (Ed & Tim pictured here)
After our visit to Carcassonne, we went to an old monastery called "Fontfroide" (or "cold spring") which was not too far away.  Like most medieval monasteries, hospices, and hospitals, this was built on the site of a fresh water source. The monks of Frontfroide belonged to the reformed Benedictine ("Cluniac") order, c. 11thc.  The community was very wealthy and owned much of the land in the vicinity. The place is stunningly beautiful, both the natural setting and architecture of the monastic complex. Oh, to be a Cluniac monk in the Middle Ages!  Not!!! Maybe at one time I would have romanticized about doing some time travel and living in a cloister... but not now, not any more. If there is one thing I've learned about myself, it is that I do not like monastic or penitential-style living conditions ... been there, done that ... it's called the grad school experience!  On the other hand, if I had been a Cluniac "choir monk," I would have been served by a number of lesser monks, called "conversos" -- lay brothers who lived on the premises, but were segregated from the choir monks, and did all the hard labour, serving in the refectory, infirmary, doing work outside, etc. 
"Converso" dormitory.

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