chapter  3
10 Pages

The Monastic Plan

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

The Abbey of Fontenay, in Burgundy, one of the best-preserved and least altered in western Europe, will be used to illustrate the major part of the monastic complex; details of other monasteries will be discussed to present a more complete composite image of monastic planning. Fontenay, a Cistercian abbey begun in 1139, presents the monastic plan in its purest form. The monastic day began its sequence of nine services in the choir at dawn and ended with nocturns sung or chanted after midnight. he cloister, with its four galleries, became the major link unifying the monastic complex. The most important part of the monastic complex is the church. The nave, south aisle, and transept of Fontenay exhibit the processional, longitudinal plan derived from Early Christian times. Under different climatic conditions the Romanesque builders showed their ability to preserve the same relationship between parts of the monastery while shifting the major monastic structures to the north side of the church.