The Cistercians

The history and culture of the Cistercians

The Cistercian Order is a monastic order was born in France in the late eleventh century. In Sicily, the first Cistercian abbey was born in Novara di Sicilia in the twelfth century, founded by Hugh of Citeaux and some of his followers.

The Cistercian Order was originally from the Abbey of Cîteaux (Latin Cistercium) in Burgundy, founded by Robert of Molesmes in 1098. A key contribution to the spread of the order throughout Europe gave Bernard of Fontaines, the first abbot of the monastery of Clairvaux (or Chiaravalle).

The first Cistercian monks arrived in Sicily in the first half of the twelfth century, the island sent Bernardo Hugh of Citeaux, who was accompanied by Paul, Eligio and Marco. The construction of Vallebona monastery began in 1137 and was completed in 1167. The monastery was canonically erected in 1171, dedicated to Maria Santissima Annunziata, then called Abbey of Santa Maria di Novara, is considered the first Cistercian monastery in Sicily.

The Monastery of Vallebona, secondary possession of the Abbey of Sambucina in Calabria, it soon became the main addiction. Here the monks quickly spread the word and the Cistercian teaching in many places in Sicily, where were built monasteries arising from the Abbey of Santa Maria di Novara, such as the Abbey of Santa Maria di Roccamadore (1193) in Messina, of Santa Maria Spano (1263) in the territory of Randazzo and the Abbey of Santa Maria in Alton (1307).

In the sixteenth century the Cistercian monks leave the Vallebona former monastery and moved into the heart of the town of Novara di Sicilia, where it built a new monastery, the Abbey of Santa Maria la Noara.