The Cistercian Spirit in Stone

David M. Odorisio, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University

Abstract

At the close of the 11th century in France a band of men began what would become one of the most successful religious orders of all time, the Cistercians. This unique movement in the history of Christianity fostered a specific aesthetic found in their own brand of architecture. This paper defines this early aesthetic and architectural theology of the Cistercians and connects this aesthetic and theology to the contemporary Cistercian monastery of New Melleray in Dubuque, Iowa, USA. New Melleray stands as a model of authentic continuity with the spirituality of the past while confronting and facing the spiritual and cultural problems of contemporary society.