Peter of Celle on Monastic Reading

“What should I say about reading? I consider a room without reading to be hell without consolation, a gibbet without belief, a prison without a light, a tomb without a vent, a ditch swarming with worms, a suffocating trap.  A room without reading is the empty house of which the gospel speaks, where the nocturnal and noonday devils assault the idle hermit with as many thrusts of the useless and harmful thoughts as there are hours and moments in the day and night.” Peter of Celle, On Affliction and Reading. 8. in Peter of Celle: Selected Works, trans. Hugh Feiss (Kalamazoo, 1987), pp. 133-134.

Peter of Celle came from minor nobility in the Champagne region of medieval France. He spent most of his adult life as an abbot at Celle, then later at St Remi in Reims.  Peter became bishop of Chartres in 1181, but he only served a short time since he died on February 19, 1182.  Although he remained a traditional Benedictine, Peter had good relations with the Cistercians and the Carthusians.  Additionally, he corresponded with the abbots of Cluny and Pope Alexander III.  He befriended John of Salisbury and supported Archbishop Thomas Beckett in the contest with Henry II of England.




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One Response to Peter of Celle on Monastic Reading

  1. John Brandt says:

    I know just the right spot on my classroom wall for this quote. Thank you.

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