In the News: Cistercian Monks

Last week I read a story on Deutsche Welle (an English-language news provider from Germany) about a Cistercian monastery in western Germany that is having to close its doors due to declining numbers of monks; you can read the story at this link.  We here in the USA are used to the idea of institutions having to close for these reasons, as in the case of churches that are dying off after a few generations.  But in this case, the monastery was NINE HUNDRED YEARS OLD!  It was part of the Cistercian movement (see their Wikipedia article at this link), the second major reform movement in the Benedictine tradition.  The most famous early Cistercian, Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot of the third monastery established in the movement, was responsible for a lot of its expansion, including the monastery in Germany about whom the original story was written.  Other famous monasteries that developed through his influence include Tintern Abbey in Wales, and Fountains and Rievaulx in Yorkshire.  It’s a spiritual tradition within the Catholic branch of Christianity that keeps on doing its thing, even if it is declining in some places.

Image credit: Langec – Own work, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96305 (cropped by the blogger)

In the News: Coptic Christians

As many of you know, there has been a migration of many Christians from the Middle East to the West, including both the United Kingdom (Great Britain) and the United States.  I have already written about some of these Christians in this post, but now they have made the news again, this time in a recent story about Christians from Egypt.  We call these Christians “Copts” or “Coptic Christians,” from the Greek name for Egypt.  The story in question can be viewed at this link; it was originally written by Brett Sholtis and published in the York Daily Record, part of the USAToday network of newspapers.

The Coptic church happens to be one with which I have great affinity; my master’s thesis dealt with the text of the book of Romans in one dialect of the Coptic language, I studied the Coptic liturgy for a doctoral seminar at Notre Dame, I wrote my dissertation on Cyril of Alexandria (perhaps the most beloved saint in the Coptic community), and I have attended services in Coptic churches in both Illinois and Texas.  This article is a nice introduction to one aspect of their life in the US; you can learn more about their history at this link and about how the breach with the rest of the church happened in the 400s at this link.  Let me know in the comments what you’d like to know more about, and I’ll give or find you some good information.

Image credit: Chris Dunn, York Daily Record (from the original article; cropped by the blogger)