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A Benedictine Monastery

The new style of Church music naturally found its most zealous promoters in the cloisters, among whom we may name Rabanus Maurus, a pupil of Alcuin, and abbot of the great convent of Fulda, and Walafrid (nicknamed Strabo), abbot of Reichenau. The Benedictine monasteries which were henceforward founded in increasing numbers north of the 11 Alps, were for the next two or three centuries, the asylums where arts and letters were preserved through the storms of those stormy times. Every convent, in fact, constituted a little town in itself when it had attained its full proportions. It began generally in the humblest manner. The abbot of some considerable monastery would send a small band of missionary monks to some spot, chosen either for its natural advantages, or from the needs, or perhaps the earnestly-expressed wishes, of the surrounding population. First, the monks would fell the trees, and erect temporary huts for themselves; then the chapel was built and service celebrated; then more permanent abodes were constructed, and gardens and fields were brought into cultivation. Then, if possible, the relics of some saint were procured, and deposited within the altar to give a special sanctity to the place, and attract worshippers in the hope of obtaining miraculous cures, and henceforward the number of monks and dependants would rapidly increase. When the institution was completed, we know by plans still preserved in the archives of St. Gall, that it would consist of the church as centre, the monks' dwellings, the cloisters, and the convent school within the inner inclosure; around which clustered handsome buildings for the abbot's and physician's houses; for the secular school, the hospital, the lodgings for travellers, whether monks or laymen; and the smaller abodes and workshops necessary for the various artificers whose crafts here found employment. The whole of this little town, so to speak, was itself inclosed within a ditch, and in later times fortified with walls and towers.

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