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Berno of Cluny

(d. 927)

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Abbot (d. 927).

The founder of the largest and most influential abbey in western Europe is little known, partly because his five successors ruled for longer than he did and all were deservedly venerated as saints (e.g. Odo, Odilo, Hugh), but also because biographical details are very sparse.

Late in the 9th century Berno became a monk in the tradition of Benedict of Aniane, which emphasized personal holiness attained through the meticulous performance of the monastic liturgy with some diminution of manual labour in the monks' day. To avoid contemporary laxity caused by secular ownership of monasteries, Cluny abbey was founded in 910 by William of Aquitaine with Berno as its abbot. Features of this reform were a return to the ideals of Benedict of Nursia with both individual poverty and chastity prominent, and its independence safeguarded by the direct protection of the Holy See. Berno had been abbot at Gigny and Beaume and towards the end of his life was given three other abbeys. Cluny's influence became deep and widespread, not least in France, Italy, and England, where the 10th-century monastic revival received it through the Cluniac house of Fleury. Berno appointed Odo as his successor, under whom Cluny made spectacular growth. Feast: 13 January.

Bibl. SS., iii. 81–2;B.L.S., i. 92;O.D.C.C., p. 369;J. Evans, Monastic Life at Cluny, 910–1157 (1931).

Subjects: Religion

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