We who have abandoned all things beautiful to see

cloisters by Art History Images (Holly Hayes), on Flickr One of our patrons celebrates his feast today: St Bernard of Clairvaux. Here's how Watts & Co marked the day, with a post of a Pugin Cistercian church at Abbey of Mount St. Bernard in Leicestershire.

And here is a fragment of his writings on the architecture of monastic churches:

I say nothing of the great height of your churches, their inordinate length, their superfluous breadth, their luxurious polish, and their bizarre carvings and paintings that attract the worshipper's gaze and hinder his attention, and seem to me to be nothing but a revival of some sort of ancient Jewish rite. Let this pass and say it is done for the glory of God. But, as a monk, I ask my brother monks ... "Tell me, poor men, tell me, poor people, what is this gold doing in your sanctuary?" … But we, who have now risen from the people, we who are supposed to have left all the precious and beautiful things of the world for Christ's sake, we who count nothing but shit so that we may win Christ, and who have abandoned all things beautiful to see, soothing to hear, sweet to smell, delightful to taste or pleasant to touch — in a word, all bodily delights — please tell me, why do we get excited by these things? St Bernard of Clairvaux, Strong Words to William (c. 1125)

And yet he is responsible for one of the richest traditions of architecture in the history of the church in substance.

Plus a few more Bernard links on the Locus Iste blog:

Val Notre-Dame Abbey

October's Architectural Record features a new Cistercian abbey designed by and completed in 2009: Val Notre-Dame Abbey, Saint-Jean-de-Mathas, Quebec. Here is yet one more example that the Cistercians have always been and continue to be the finest architectural patrons in Christendom.

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