WikiNow lets you discover the news you care about, follow the topics that matter to you and share your favourite stories with your friends.

© WikiNow

A Cistercian is a member of the Cistercian Order Ordo Cisterciensis), a religious order of monks and nuns. They are variously called the Bernardines, after the highly influential St. Bernard of Clairvaux , or the White Monks, in reference to the colour of the "cuccula" or white choir robe worn by the Cistercians over their habits, as opposed to the black cucculas worn by the Benedictine monks. The original emphasis of Cistercian life was on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and many abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ales. Over the centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of their monasteries. A reform movement seeking a simpler lifestyle started in 17th-century France at La Trappe Abbey, which led to development in 1892 of the independent Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance , commonly called the Trappists. After that the followers of the older pattern of life became known as the Cistercians of the Original Observance.

Cistercian Order
Arms of Ordo cisterciensis.svg
Coat of arms of the Cistercians
Abbreviation OCist or SOCist
Motto Cistercium mater nostra
Cistercium (Cîteau) is our mother
Formation 1098 in present-day France
Type Roman Catholic religious order
Headquarters Piazza del Tempio di Diana, 14
Rome, Italy
Abbot General
Dom Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori
Website www.ocist.org
St Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most influential early Cistercians
Vietnamese Cistercian monks standing in a cloister and wearing their religious habits

A Cistercian is a member of the Cistercian Order (/sɪˈstɜːrʃən/, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist (Latin: (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis), a religious order of monks and nuns. They are variously called the Bernardines, after the highly influential St. Bernard of Clairvaux (though the term is also used of the Franciscan Order in Poland and Lithuania), or the White Monks, in reference to the colour of the "cuccula" or white choir robe worn by the Cistercians over their habits, as opposed to the black cucculas worn by the Benedictine monks. The original emphasis of Cistercian life was on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and many abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ales. Over the centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of their monasteries. A reform movement seeking a simpler lifestyle started in 17th-century France at La Trappe Abbey, which led to development in 1892 of the independent Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OCSO), commonly called the Trappists. After that the followers of the older pattern of life became known as the Cistercians of the Original Observance.

The term Cistercian (French Cistercien), derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the village of Cîteaux, near Dijon in eastern France. It was in this village that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme founded Cîteaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. The best known of them were Robert of Molesme, Alberic of Cîteaux and the English monk Stephen Harding, who were the first three abbots. Bernard of Clairvaux entered the monastery in the early 1110s with 30 companions and helped the rapid proliferation of the order. By the end of the 12th century, the order had spread throughout France and into England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Eastern Europe.

The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to literal observance of the Rule of St Benedict. Rejecting the developments the Benedictines had undergone, the monks tried to replicate monastic life exactly as it had been in Saint Benedict's time; indeed in various points they went beyond it in austerity. The most striking feature in the reform was the return to manual labour, especially field-work, a special characteristic of Cistercian life. Cistercian architecture is considered one of the most beautiful styles of medieval architecture. Additionally, in relation to fields such as agriculture, hydraulic engineering and metallurgy, the Cistercians became the main force of technological diffusion in medieval Europe.

The Cistercians were adversely affected in England by the Protestant Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII, the French Revolution in continental Europe, and the revolutions of the 18th century, but some survived and the order recovered in the 19th century.

Hidden: A Life All for God

The Trappistine Sisters at Mount Saint Mary's Abbey in Wrentham, MA lead simple consecrated lives of prayer as lived in the heart of the Church for all their ...

The Cistercians

It was a real privilege to have access behind the closed doors of Mount St. Bernard's abbey, Coalville. This short piece just gives an insight into the daily life and ...

Cistercian Chant - Propter Nimiam Caritatem

Cistercian chant of the Late Middle Ages (12th Century). Title: "Propter Nimiam Caritatem" Service: Matins of Christmas. Performers: Ensemble Organum ...

Experience Cistercian

5 good reasons to become a Cistercian monk - The Monastic Channel - 30.09.2011

Fr. Roch Kereszty Addresses the Cistercian School in Budapest