Monastic Wales.

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also known as: White Monks

The Cistercian Order had its origins in the marshy forests of Cîteaux, south of Dijon, and became one of the most important of the new religious orders to emerge from the eleventh-century reform movement. The movement was instigated by Abbot Robert of the Benedictine house at Molesme, who left his monastery seeking a simple and more austere way of life. He was joined by several like-minded companions. Robert was compelled to return to Molesme and uphold his duties as abbot but the others remained, attracted additional devotees and subsequently formed the first Cistercian community at Cîteaux. But it was the arrival of Bernard of Clairvaux c. 1112 which transformed the Cistercian Order into a truly international one that dominated Europe. The Cistercians arrived in Wales in 1131 and founded Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire. This was the second Cistercian foundation in Britain.
The Cistercians, also known as the 'White Monks', on account of the distinctive colour of their habits, were driven by a desire for simplicity. They sought to return to the basic precepts of the Rule of St Benedict and made manual labour once more an integral part of their day. Each abbey had a community of lay-brothers (conversi) in addition to a community of monks, who helped make the house a self-sufficient unit. The abbeys were joined in a familial relationship connected through bonds of unity and uniformity of practice. Each house was visited annually to make sure that standards were maintained, and all abbots were required to attend the annual General Chapter at Cîteaux. Read more.

Sites associated with this order



Aberconwy 1 Abbey, Conwy

Basingwerk Abbey, Flintshire

Cwmhir Abbey, Powys

Cymer Abbey, Gwynedd

Grace Dieu Abbey, Monmouthshire

Llanll?r Abbey, Ceredigion

Llanllugan Abbey, Powys

Llantarnam Abbey, Torfaen

Maenan Abbey, Conwy

Margam Abbey, Neath Port Talbot

Neath Abbey, Neath Port Talbot

Strata Florida Abbey, Ceredigion

Strata Marcella Abbey, Powys

Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire

Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbighshire

Whitland Abbey, Carmarthenshire

Related articles on Monastic Wales

Remnants of Basingwerk Abbey,
Remnants of Llanllugan,
Remnants of Margam Abbey,
Remnants of Neath Abbey,
Remnants of Strata Florida,
Remnants of Tintern Abbey,
Remnants of Valle Crucis,
The Cistercians in Wales, Professor Janet Burton
Who were the Cistercians?, Professor Janet Burton
‘Transient’ religious houses and those of uncertain existence: Nefyn, Trawscoed, Pendâr, Clynnog Fawr and Llansanffraid, Dr David Stephenson, School of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, Bangor University

Bibliographical sources

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106 On-line sources

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Cistercian sites

1 Aberconwy 1 Conwy (Abbey)
2 Basingwerk Flintshire (Abbey)
3 Cwmhir Powys (Abbey)
4 Cymer Gwynedd (Abbey)
5 Grace Dieu Monmouthshire (Abbey)
6 Llanll?r Ceredigion (Abbey)
7 Llanllugan Powys (Abbey)
8 Llantarnam Torfaen (Abbey)
9 Maenan Conwy (Abbey)
10 Margam Neath Port Talbot (Abbey)
11 Neath Neath Port Talbot (Abbey)
12 Strata Florida Ceredigion (Abbey)
13 Strata Marcella Powys (Abbey)
14 Tintern Monmouthshire (Abbey)
15 Valle Crucis Denbighshire (Abbey)
16 Whitland Carmarthenshire (Abbey)