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)