Letter from Stephen of Lexington to the Abbot of Shrule (Letter 55)

To the Abbot of Shrule, greetings.


We command you in virtue of the obedience you owe to the Order and the General Chapter, immediately this letter is received to proceed, with the subprior of Bective to visit on behalf of the lord abbot of Clairvaux the monasteries of Boyle and Knockmoy as rightful daughter-houses of Clairvaux. Appoint at Boyle an abbot in accordance with this instruction: give the electors the choice of one out of the four persons whose names we write here. Two of them are English, two Irish: namely Nigel, Prior of St. Mary’s Abbey, Dublin; T. Cantor of Duiske; Nehemias, Prior of Mellifont; Constantine, monk of Maigue, formerly abbot of Holy Cross. Although we had proposed at another time to promote Brother Donatus of Mellifont, it had not then come to our attention that he was named among the Mellifont conspirators. It is expressly prohibited for any of those to be appointed abbot for any reason. But if you find them rebellious – that is, the prior or anyone else – depose them immediately from their offices and if necessary excommunicate them, reporting their names back to us so that we can properly punish them. But we trust in the Lord Jesus concerning their discretion and holy religion that they will show themselves devout and obedient to you in all respects out of reverence for the Order and their mother Clairvaux, whom you represent. Show this letter to the electors.


We have signed and sealed a charter which is to be read during your visitation and distributed, one copy to Boyle and another to Knockmoy, and is to be very carefully observed in future. Let monks and lay-brothers guard themselves against negligence because we will send a copy to Clairvaux. Farewell.


Stephen of Lexington, Letters from Ireland 1228 – 1229, translated and with an introduction by Barry W. O’Dwyer (Cistercian Publications Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan) pp. 110 – 111
These extracts are reproduced with the kind permission of Liturgical Press: Cistercian Publications

Monastic sites related to this article:
Abbeyknockmoy, Galway
Bective, Meath
Boyle, Roscommon
Holycross, Tipperary
Monasternenagh, Limerick