Monastic Ireland.

Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Community of Chore (Letter 4)

Extract from Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229 (translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O'Dwyer), Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982

Letter 4

To the Community of Chore, greetings.

The charge of much disorder as well as rebellion and conspiracy – which we mention not without sorrow – perpetrated in your house in the past year against the visitor sent to you on behalf of the General Chapter, namely the abbot of Tintern Minor, has been brought to our attention by reliable and trustworthy men. He removed your former abbot, Brother R., from office for refusing to submit to the authority given to him, and at the same time he placed your church and you yourselves under interdict and suspended you from the divine services for as long as you supported the before-mentioned R. as abbot or recognised him as your abbot.
Therefore, with great bitterness of heart at such disobedience and rash presumption against your mother, the Cistercian way of life, which has borne you in Christ, and pondering moreover on such a clear and abominable danger to souls before God and men in that, despite being under interdict and suspended from the ecclesiastical offices, you have still attempted to celebrate these until now, we have delayed quite a long time so that we would do what we ought to be done in such a difficult case where such offences have taken place. However, desiring now to spare your ignorance and thoughtlessness in so far as we can and ought, and to provide for the salvation of your souls, we have send the lord abbot of Tracton and two monks to you, and with the authority given to us by the Chapter and the Order we have given them the faculty of granting absolution in the form we have prescribed to them to all penitents in your house who are prepared to give worthy satisfaction to God and the Order, and of punishing all who are rebellious and disobedient to the above-stated authority, in accordance with justice. Furthermore, we have bestowed on them the authority of being able to grant dispensation in the case of devout and worthy penitents from the penances deservedly imposed on them previously, and they will exercise their powers during the divine services in due time and place.
Therefore, as beloved sons of God and of obedience in Christ, being mindful in your heart of hearts of how many and how enormous were the remembered offences, although you have been transgressors, hasten now to return to your heart, picture to yourselves the horrors of hell and the glories of heaven in the eyes of your mind, and thus having more perfectly repented in this way, you will be much more sincerely prepared to submit to whatever is necessary for the sake of avoiding the death of the soul then to whatever you underwent for avoiding the death of the body, so that in this way, to whatever extent your contumacious disobedience has scandalized the Church of God and the Order, so to that extent will your devout and humble repentance in Christ cause edification and rejoicing.


Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 - 1229, translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O'Dwyer (Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan) pp. 21 - 22
These extracts are reproduced with the kind permission of Liturgical Press:

Monastic sites related to this article

Midleton, Cork(Abbey)
Tracton, Cork(Abbey)