chapter  8
22 Pages

Salvation, Damnation and Cohabitatio: Peter, Letter 150

As stated previously, Peter’s letter 149 to Bernard, dateable by its reference to the Cistercian chapter general to some time preceding 14 September 1149, is closely followed by 150, his third ‘open’ letter and the focus of this chapter.1 The reference in the latter to a meeting to be held, probably at Clairvaux, on 1 November, may suggest that this letter should be dated to October of the same year.2 It was suggested in the previous chapter that letter 149 should be seen as standing in the same relationship to letter 150 as do the ‘private’ frames of letters 28 and 111. The division here, however, would seem to suggest a change in tactics, creating an apparent distinction between ‘private’ and ‘public’. This hypothesis may seem to find confirmation in certain distinctive features of letter 150. Although addressed to Bernard, it is characterised as capitulum, a ‘chapter’,3 and Bernard is called upon directly to present its contents to the meeting of Cistercian abbots.4 Bernard himself, as will be seen, is addressed throughout the letter in his role of pastor and spiritual mentor for the Cistercians rather than as personal ‘friend’ of Peter. The letter itself is notably briefer and narrower in scope than its predecessors, confining itself to one ‘proposition’, that Cistercians should welcome Cluniacs into their monasteries on an equal footing. While ‘dramatic’ devices such as apostrophe and anticipated objections appear fleetingly,5 there is no attempt to create and sustain the illusion of dialogue or debate.