Celebration of 900 years of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux
International Meeting of the Cistercian family at Clairvaux
19-21 August 2015
Extracts of the report, with two photos, of the Grange saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Invited by the Grange St. Bernard of Clairvaux for the feast of St.Bernard, a small group of 120 men and women belonging to the Cistercian family gathered at Clairvaux to celebrate the ninth centenary of the foundation of its abbey.
They included nuns, monks and lay people, young and old, speaking languages from different countries with equal proportions of O.Cist and OCSO: a beautiful image of today’s Cistercian family.
On Wednesday, August 19, participants listened to a conference by Jean François Leroux on the history of Clairvaux. Followed by a round table discussion by actors in the social and religious life at Clairvaux. Sister Mary Helen Jackson, Prioress General of the Bernardines of Esquermes and Pierre Alban Delannoy then recounted the history and present situation of the Cistercians.
On August 20, participants met for the office of Terce, then worked on two text messages sent to the Cistercian family and the world around us. Interventions included Sister Monika, Abbess of the Abbey of Wurmsbach (O.Cist), Dom Thomas Davis, Abbot Emeritus of New Clairvaux, USA, Dom Jean Marc Thevenet, Abbot of Acey and Dom Olivier Quenardel, Abbot of Cîteaux. Further text revision work, chaired by Dom Olivier, continued in the afternoon. A 900th anniversary mass was celebrate at noon, organized in conjunction with the diocese of Troyes. It was the first mass to be celebrated in the historic part of the twelfth century Clairvaux Abbey since the French Revolution. Msgr. Marc Stenger, Bishop of Troyes, concelebrated with three additional bishops, four Cistercian Abbots and two Clairvaux parish priests. Abbey visits were organized for the Cistercian family in the afternoon.
Report by Dom Thomas Davis and brother Guerric Llanes, of the Abbey of New Clairvaux
Two monks from the Abbey of Our Lady of New Clairvaux, Father Thomas and Brother Guerric, were asked by their abbot to represent the Cistercians from the U.S.A. at the 900th anniversary celebration of the foundation of Clairvaux in France on the Solemnity of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, August 20, 2015. They arrived to Clairvaux on August 17th to be able to attend and visit the various conferences and exhibitions being offered at the Cistercian grange at Grange d’Outre-Aube and at the l’Hôtel-Dieu-le-Compte in the city of Troyes. At the l’Hôtel-Dieu-le-Compte, there was a marvellous exhibition entitled “Clairvaux. L’aventure cistercienne,” which was an excellent presentation of Cistercians and their monastic, political, economic, artistic and intellectual life at Clairvaux from the 12th to the 18th century. At La Grange Saint Bernard de Clairvaux, the association of lay Cistercians set up an equally fabulous and interesting exhibit at the old Cistercian barn depicting monastic life at Clairvaux.
Finally on August 20th, the solemn feast day of Saint Bernard, the Bishop Marc Stenger of Troyes together with three other bishops, Dom Olivier Quenardel, the abbot of Cîteaux, Dom Jean Marc Thevenet, the abbot of Acey, Dom Bruno Fromme, the abbot of Himmerod, and our very own abbot emeritus, Dom Thomas Davis of New Clairvaux, celebrated Mass at 12 noon held inside the lay brothers’ dormitory, which is the only surviving building of 12th-century Clairvaux. A festive banquet followed and tours of Clairvaux for the Cistercian family was organized in several different languages.
Clairvaux Abbey after 900 years became a meeting place that gathered the entire Cistercian family which includes the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, the Order of Cîteaux, the Bernardine congregation and lay association of Cistercians in Europe and countless others who filled that 12th-century Cistercian building for a few moments to pray, worship and give thanks together. But on a more personal note, the entire trip was indeed a Cistercian adventure which offered a more intimate connection to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, to the place with which he would have been familiar, and to the Cistercian spirit by which he was animated and lived most vibrantly.