France: Cluny celebrates 1100 years of the Benedictine Abbey

Source: FSSPX News

A vast restoration programme for the Abbey of Cluny has been launched. Cluny has placed the celebrations for the 11th centenary of the Abbey under the patronage of the monks, Bernon, Gunzo and Hézelon. If any doubt remains as to the exact year of the foundation, 909 or 910, the events will take place in 2009 and 2010. Next summer the Centre of National Monuments (CMN) plans to set up a new visitors’ route for the abbey. It will be concentrated on the remains of the old church, explained Virginie Goutayer, in charge of the assignment for CMN, in order that the visitors may be better able to find their way around. Firstly, they will view the film Maior Ecclesia in 3D to discover the building virtually and learn its history. A new version and a projection room are in hand.
Fr. Bernon, who came from Baume-les-Messieurs (Jura) at the request of Guillaume le Pieux, the Duke of Aquitaine, founded at Cluny in the 10th Century a monastery with twelve monks according to the rule of St. Benedict. The construction of the Abbey in its initial phase was completed under his successor Odo in 927. In the following century, Gunzo received in a dream the plans for the great abbey church whose construction was started in 1088 by Hézelon, a monk from Liège, who was also an architect. It was completed under the Abbot Peter the Venerable and consecrated in 1130.
It is difficult to imagine today what this gigantic abbey, destined to receive one thousand monks, was like. The length of the edifice was 187 meters and the vaulted ceiling 30 meters high. Only the south arms of the large and small transepts remain, as well as the Holy Water Bell Tower, which covers the south transept. Although it is almost impossible to imagine the church in its length, the remaining elements after the destruction of the Abbey during the Revolution give us an idea of its exceptional elevation worthy of a Gothic Cathedral.
(Sources: apic/architecture-cluny/cluny2010)