Cluny Abbey Facts

Cluny Abbey Facts
Cluny Abbey is a monastery that was built in France in 910. It was one of the chief Benedictine, Christian monasteries of its time and it helped to bring stability to the European society. William I, Duke of Aquitaine donated the land for the Abbey from his own hunting preserve. The Cluny Abbey was considered to be the most prestigious, grandest and splendid monastery in Europe. Most of it was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1790, and today most of it is in ruins.
Interesting Cluny Abbey Facts:
Cluny Abbey had the largest church in the world until St. Peter's Basilica was built in the 17th century.
Abbot Berno was the first Abbot of the abbey, who served directly under Pope Sergius III.
Cluny Abbey was founded by Benedictine monks. It wasn't until the 11th century that women were admitted to the order.
In the 12th century, Cluny Abbey had at least 10,000 monks! It was considered to be the ‘monastic empire'.
Pope Urabn II named Abbey Cluny the ‘light of the world' in 1098.
The church in Cluny Abbey stood at an amazing 656 feet in height.
Much of Cluny Abbey was designed with Romanesque architecture. It even held Romanesque sculptures that are considered to be masterpieces today.
The library in Cluny Abbey was at one time considered to be the most important and the riches library in all of Europe. It contained many important and valuable books (manuscripts).
Although monks traditionally led a frugal life, the monks at Cluny Abbey were well taken care of. There were solid gold and silver chalices with gems for mass. Monks usually ate porridge and broth, but not the monks at Cluny Abbey. They enjoyed wine, cheese and roasted chicken. They wore silk and linen clothing for mass. The monks at Cluny Abbey devoted most of their time to prayer and did not have to do physical labour.
Beginning in the 12th century the abbey began to have serious financial problems. It's thought that the financial trouble began because of the cost of building the third abbey. The amount of money that was donated to the poor also increased during this time as well, which was a strain on abbey funds.
In 1562 the abbey was attacked by the Huguenot and many of the books in the library were destroyed or stolen. The stolen books could not be recollected as they fell into private hands.
In the 1790s, the French Revolution is blamed for the destruction of most of the abbey.
Whatever was left of Cluny Abbey was sold afterwards. It sold for approximately 2,140,000 francs (almost the same in U.S. dollars) in 1798.
Napoleon used the material from the ruined abbey to build a horse-breeding center in 1806.
Today a small portion of the third church and the bell tower remain.
Other French monuments were influenced by Cluny Abbey including La Charite-sur-Loire, Autun Cathedral and Paray-le-Monial
Proof of the wealth of the abbey can be seen at the Musee de Cluny in Paris, where there are artifacts on display.

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