The monastic response to Papal reform: Summi Magistri and it reception
Marett-Crosby, Dom Anthony
English Benedictine History, 27 (2001)
The list of medieval sons and daughters of Saint Benedict who have spearheaded reform in the church is a not a long one. We may speak perhaps of Anselm, Lanfranc and their contemporaries in the heady new world of Anglo-Norman England and we may also pause amidst the Cluniac monks at the heart of the Gregorian reform. Thereafter the number of monks whose reforms extended beyond the cloister may be counted on the list of one hand. Within even this brief enumeration, the number of genuinely English monastic reformers is even fewer – Dunstan, Ethelwold and Oswald, the fathers of the 10th century English renewal, are in truth lonely figures. Because of this, the issue of reform and the response it elucidated provides a good way into the heart of English monasticism where reform in general did not find a ready home.
More specifically, this topic offers a way of answering four important questions. In the first place, we need to step back from the history of the English Benedictine Congregation in itself, and ask what authority the Popes were claiming in undertaking the reform of the Benedictines at all.