November 11, 2009. Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to the monastic reform linked to the great monastery of Cluny.
Founded eleven hundred years ago, Cluny restored the strict observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict and made the Church’s liturgy the centre of its life. It stressed the solemn celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and Holy Mass, and enriched the worship of God with splendid art, architecture and music. The monastic liturgy, seen as a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy, was accompanied by a daily regime marked by silence and intercessory prayer.
Cluny’s reputation for sanctity and learning caused its influence to spread to monasteries throughout Europe. Exempt from interference by feudal authorities, the monastery freely elected its abbots and flourished under a series of outstanding spiritual leaders like Saints Odo and Hugh. Cluny also contributed to the reform of the universal Church by its concern for holiness, the restoration of clerical celibacy and the elimination of simony. At a formative time of Europe’s history, Cluny helped to forge the Continent’s Christian identity by its emphasis on the primacy of the spirit, respect for human dignity, commitment to peace and an authentic and integral humanism.
I cordially welcome the English-speaking visitors in attendance at today’s Audience. I particularly greet pilgrims from the Diocese of Fort Worth, students and staff from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Diocesan Directors of Communications from England and Wales, as well as priests from Japan. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!