In these articles Professor McGuire explores the riches of the Cistercian exemplum tradition. These texts are made up of brief stories, often with a miraculous content, which provided moral support for novices and monks in Cistercian abbeys all over Europe in the High Middle Ages. The Cistercians have been seen mainly in terms of their great writers like Bernard of Clairvaux and the impressive buildings they left behind. But Cistercian literature also provides us with more humble insights from daily life, shedding light on questions of sexuality, anger, depression, and bonds of friendship, also between monks and nuns. They bring a freshness of insight and immediate experience, and their seeming naivety lets us be aware of monks' commitment to each other in individual and community bonds. In Cistercian storytelling, the Gospel's message meets an historical context and bears witness to a transformation of Christian life and idealism, while at the same time allowing us precious insights into how ordinary men and women, not just monks and nuns, lived and thought.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Written sources and Cistercian inspiration in Caesarius of Heisterbach; Friends and tales in the cloister: oral sources in Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogus miraculorum; The Cistercians and the transformation of monastic friendships; A lost Clairvaux exemplum collection found: the Liber Visionum et Miraculorum compiled under Prior John of Clairvaux (1171-79); The Cistercians and the rise of the exemplum in early 13th-century France: a re-evaluation of Paris Bn Ms lat. 15912; Taking responsibility: medieval Cistercian abbots and monks as their brother’s keepers; Rebirth and responsibility: Cistercian stories from the late12th century; Index.
'Prof. McGuire is a proven scholar of medieval monasticism, and that is evident in this book... it deserves a place in every monastic library where research is carried on and scholarship undertaken. ' Cistercian Studies Quarterly '... a welcome addition to the realm of medieval monastic studies.' American Benedictine Review 'Although some of the articles are over twenty years old, their collection represents an indispensable worktool for those dealing with Cistercian exempla and Césaire d'Heisterbach in particular. Moreover, this book gives an idea of the everyday life of the Cistercians, their mentality and their religiosity from the end of the 12th century to the beginning of the 13th century. Reader access is made easy thanks to a very detailed thematic index.' Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique