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Silent Brotherhood

Dwellers in the Priories of Cluny and Hirsan in the eleventh century were placed under rigid discipline as to speech. Those of Cluny were the first to adopt the system of signs for daily intercommunication, which system, by consent or per missal, granted after application through three special messengers from the Priory of Hirsan, was adopted by that Priory in all its elaborateness, and indeed enlarged and perfected by the well-known Abbot William. The doctrine of a perfect silence in such extensive communities became noteworthy in history. These earnest and devoted men, under strong discipline, as Conversi or barbati fratres, Returned or Bearded Brethren, were encouraged in the Abbeys of the Middle Ages. Their labors were conducted in companies of ten each, under Deans of the Monastery, who were in turn instructed by Wardens and Superiors.

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