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The Benedictine monastery of Cluny, the motherhouse of the Congreation of Cluny (sometimes referred to as the Cluniac Order), was founded by William, duke of Aquitaine, in A.D. 910. William gave Cluny the remarkable privilege of releasing the house from all future obligation to him and his family other than prayer. This seems to have been an arrangement between William and Berno, the first abbot, to free the new monastery from secular entanglements.

Two differences between Cluny and other Benedictine houses and confederations were their organizational structure and their execution of the liturgy as their main form of work. While most Benedictine monasteries are autonomous and associated with each other only voluntarily, Cluny created a large, federated order in which the administrators of subsidiary houses were deputies of the abbot of Cluny and responsible to him. These priors, or chiefs of priories, met at Cluny once a year to deal with administrative issues and make reports.

The customs of Cluny also represented a shift from the earlier ideal of a Benedictine monastery as an agriculturally self-sufficient unit in which each member did physical labor as well as offering prayer. Cluny's agreement to offer perpetual prayer (laus perennis, literally "perpetual praise") meant that specialization went further at Cluny.

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Cluny and the Arts

The fast-growing monastery at Cluny demanded buildings on a large scale. The third and final church at Cluny was built as the largest building in Europe before the rebuilding of St. Peter's in Rome in the 16th century.

Cluny's Influence

Four monks of Cluny became pope: Gregory VII, Urban II, Paschal II, and Urban V

Further Reading

Kenneth J. Conant, Cluny. Les églises et la maison du chef d'Ordre (1968).
Barbara H. Rosenwein, Rhinoceros Bound: Cluny in the 10th Century (1982).

External link

Catholic Encyclopedia entry, Congregation of Cluny (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04073a.htm)

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