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Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys

The following is from Scottish Cathedrals and Abbeys by Rev. D. Butler, M.A.:

Chapter VI - Scottish Monasticism

The old Celtic monastic system, with Iona as its centre, was superseded by the monastic system of the Roman Church in the eleventh century, and the old Culdee monks were either driven from their ancient settlements or compelled to become Augustinian canons or Benedictine monks. The life of Queen Margaret marks the period of transition in Scotland from the old system to that of the Church of Rome both in building and in every other department, and what Queen Margaret began, her sons, Edgar, Alexander and David completed. St. Margaret had a monk of Durham for her chaplain; Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, was her chosen counsellor. She introduced Benedictines from Canterbury into her foundation at Dunfermline. Edgar and Alexander took for their adviser St. Anselm--Lanfranc's successor, preferred English priests, and peopled the monasteries with English monks. David was even more earnest in the pursuit of this policy, and the kings who followed him found little to "Anglicise." Saxon refugees were followed into Scotland by Norman knights; these were received by David and presented with lands, and the extent of their possessions is apparent in the names of the proprietors settled in every part of the country. The policy is apparent: their settlement helped to keep the country in order, and defend it from the attacks of the unsubdued tribes in the north and west. It also helped to facilitate the spread of the Roman Catholic system throughout the country. "The new colonists," says Dr. Cosmo Innes, "were of the 'upper classes' of Anglican families long settled in Northumbria, and Normans of the highest blood and name. They were men of the sword, above all service and mechanical employment. They were fit for the society of court, and many became the chosen companions of our princes. The old native people gave way before them, or took service under the strong-handed strangers, who held lands by the written gift of the sovereign."[307] ... "The new settlers were of the progressive party, friends of civilisation and the Church. They had found churches on their manors, or if not already there, had founded them. To each of these manorial churches the lord of the manor now made a grant of the tithes of his estate; his right to do so does not seem to have been questioned, and forthwith the manor--tithed to its church--became what we now call a parish."[308] Examples of these parish churches have already been considered, and the two-fold movement of a cathedral system with parochial benefices was continued for a time. It was the most effective way of superseding the old Celtic church, and the policy was throughout inspired by the aim of substituting the parochial system with a diocesan episcopacy for the old tribal churches with monastic jurisdiction and functional episcopacy. But this was accompanied by a third movement, which to a very great extent paralysed it, and became a source of weakness to religion. The parochial system was shipwrecked when scarcely formed by the introduction of monasticism, which was then in the ascendant throughout Europe. "The new monks," says Dr. Cosmo Innes, "of the reformed rule of St. Benedict or canons of St. Augustine, pushing aside the poor lapsarian Culdees, won the veneration of the people by their zealous teaching and asceticism.... The church, too, with all its dues and pertinents, was bestowed on the monastery and its patron saint for ever, reserving only a pittance for a poor priest to serve the cure, or sometimes allowing the monks to serve it by one of their own brethren. William the Lion gave thirty-three parishes to the new monastery of Arbroath, dedicated to the latest and most fashionable High Church saint, Thomas ŕ Becket."[309]

The Church thus became territorial instead of tribal; episcopal instead of abbatial, and the new abbeys began to acquire large territory in the country. By the end of the thirteenth century the old line of Celtic kings closed in Alexander, and the movement was complete; the Church had ceased to be Celtic in usage and character, and had become Roman. This stream of tendency came from the south, and cathedrals with abbeys were constituted after English models. "Of the Scottish sees, all," says Dr. Joseph Robertson, "save three or four, were founded or restored by St. David, and their cathedral constitutions were formally copied from English models. Thus the chapter of Glasgow took that of Salisbury for its guide. Dunkeld copied from the same type, venerable in its associations with the name of St. Osmund, whose "Use of Sarum" obtained generally throughout Scotland. Elgin or Moray sent to Lincoln for its pattern, and transmitted it, with certain modifications, to Aberdeen and to Caithness. So it was also with the monasteries. Canterbury was the mother of Dunfermline; Durham, of Coldingham; St. Oswald's at Nosthill, near Pontefract, was the parent of Scone, and through that house, of St. Andrews and Holyrood. Melrose and Dundrennan were daughters of Rievaux, in the North Riding. Dryburgh was the offspring of Alnwick; Paisley, of Wenlock."[310]

Roman monasticism thus became an important factor in Scottish life, and it is true to say that for a very considerable period the history both of piety and civilisation in Scotland was the history of its monasticism. It was a stage in the national development, a movement in religious progress, and it was only abolished when the salt had lost its savour, when monasticism had ceased to be spiritual and had become worldly and corrupt. The system had served its day in helping to educate the nation, and when its purpose was achieved it passed away.

Medićval architecture was, too, the outcome of the leisure in the cloister, and the men who designed and built those venerable temples must have been men to whom their work was their religion, and who regarded it as the way of honouring God. One cannot look at their architecture without realising how true are Ruskin's definitions of Art:--"Art has for its business to praise God."[311] "Great Art is the expression of a God-made great man."[312] "Art is the expression of delight in God's work."[313] "All great art is praise." "Art is the exponent of ethical life."[314] One cannot look at their ruins and not recall that by their destruction a beauty has passed away from the earth; one cannot read of the rude forces that destroyed them, and not see that the judgment on things is always on character, and that the last testing principle is, "See--not what manner of stones, but what manner of men." While we deplore the forces that destroyed, we have also to deplore the indefensible lives of the monks which at their last stage stirred such forces to their depths. There were four principal rules, under which might be classed all the religious orders. (1) That of St. Basil, which prevailed by degrees over all the others in the East, and which is retained by all the Oriental monks; (2) That of St. Augustine, which was adopted by the regular canons, the order of Premontré, the order of the Preaching Brothers or Dominicans, and several military orders. (3) That of St. Benedict, which, adopted successively by all the monks of the West, still remained the common rule of the monastic order, properly so called, up to the thirteenth century; the orders of the Camaldules of Vallombrosa, of the Carthusians, and of Citeaux recognised this rule as the basis of their special constitutions, although the name of monk of St. Benedict or Benedictine monk may still be specially assigned to others. (4) The Rule of St. Francis signalised the advent of the Mendicant orders in the thirteenth century. It is to be noted that the denomination of monks is not generally attributed to the religious who follow the rule of St. Augustine, nor to the Mendicant orders.[315]

The canonical hours at which the monastic bell regularly summoned the monks were seven in number:--(1) Prime, about 6 A.M.; (2) Tierce, about 9 A.M.; (3) Sext, about noon; (4) Nones, from 2 to 3 P.M.; (5) Vespers, about 4 P.M. or later; (6) Compline, 7 P.M.; (7) Matins and Lauds, about midnight.

Scottish monasticism exhibited the expansion of the two main streams--the Augustinian and the Benedictine, and each subsequent order is to be regarded as an endeavour towards reform. Space will only permit us to deal with the Augustinian establishments at St. Andrews, Holyrood, and Jedburgh; with the Premonstratensian abbey of Dryburgh; with the Benedictine abbey of Dunfermline; with the Cluniacensian abbey of Paisley; with the Tyronensian abbeys of Kelso and Arbroath; with the Cistercian abbey of Melrose. The Premonstratensian order was a reform on the Augustinian, and the Cluniacensian, Tyronensian, and Cistercian orders, reforms on the Benedictine order. A study of their history and architecture in representative forms will introduce us to the piety and beauty of former days, as well as to an order of things very different from our own.[316]

[307] Sketches of Early Scotch History, p. 10.
[308] Ibid. p. 11.
[309] Ibid. p. 18.
[310] Scottish Abbeys and Cathedrals, p. 27.
[311] Modern Painters, vol. i. p. 23.
[312] Ibid. vol. iii. p. 44.
[313] Ibid. vol. v. p. 206.
[314] Oxford Lectures, p. 27.
[315] Montalembert's Monks of the West, vol. ii. pp. 40, 41.
[316] The Augustinian order had also monasteries at Scone, Inchcolm, Lochleven, Isle of May, and Pittenweem, Blantyre, Cambuskenneth, Restennet, Canonby, and Inchaffray, as well as smaller houses at Loch Tay, Portmoak, Monymusk, St. Mary's Isle Priory at Trail, Rowadil, Oronsay, Colonsay, Inchmahome, Rosneath, Strathfillan, Scarinche, Abernethy (Perthshire); the Premonstratensian order had also abbeys at Saulseat, Holywood, Whithorn, Tongland, Fearn; the Benedictine order had also abbeys at Coldingham and Urquhart; the Cluniacensian order had also abbeys at Crossraguel, Fail, and Dalmulin; the Tyronensian order had also abbeys at Lesmahagow, Kilwinning, Lindores, Iona, and smaller houses at Dull, Fyvie, Inchkenneth, Rothesay (St. Mary's); the Cistercian order had also abbeys at Newbattle, Dundrennan, Kinloss, Deir, Cupar, Glenluce, Culross, Balmerino, Sweetheart, and smaller houses at Saddel, Friars Carse (near Dumfries), Hassendean, Mauchline, Cadvan (in Dunbog), and Holm Cultram; the order of Vallis Caulium had priories at Pluscardine, Beauly, and Ardchattan; the Carthusians had houses at Perth and Makerstone (Roxburghshire). There were 14 religious houses belonging to the Trinity Friars, 12 to the Carmelites, 18 to the Dominicans, 7 to the Franciscans, 13 to the Observantines, 6 to the Knights of Malta, 16 to the Knights Templars.

St. Andrew's Priory (Augustinian)


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