In 909 (or 910), Guillaume, duc des Aquitains and comte de Mâcon founded the monastery of Cluny for the good of his soul, as the Foundation Charter shows:
“To all right thinkers it is clear that the providence of God has so provided for certain rich men that, by means of their transitory possessions, if they use them well, they may be able to merit everlasting rewards. As to which thing, indeed, the divine word, showing it to be possible and altogether advising it, says: "The riches of a man are the redemption of his soul." (Prov. xiii.) I, William, count and duke by the grace of God, diligently pondering this, and desiring to provide for my own safety while I am still able, have considered it advisable - nay, most necessary, that from the temporal goods which have been conferred upon me I should give some little portion for the gain of my soul. I do this indeed in order that I who have thus increased in wealth may not, per chance, at the last be accused of have having spent all in caring for my body, but rather may rejoice, when fate at last shall snatch all things away, in having reserved something for myself. Which end, indeed, seems attainable by no more suitable means than that, following the precept of Christ "I will make his poor my friends" (Luke xvi. 9), and making the act not a temporary but a lasting one, I should support at my own expense a congregation of monks. And this is my trust, this is my hope, indeed, that although I myself am unable to despise all things, nevertheless by receiving despisers of this world, whom I believe to be righteous, I may receive the reward of the righteous. Therefore be it known to all who live in the unity of the faith and who await the mercy of Christ, and to those who shall succeed them and who shall continue to exist until the end of the world, that, for the love of God and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, I hand over from my own rule to the holy apostles, Peter, namely, and Paul, the possessions over which I hold sway, the town of Cluny, namely, with the court and demesne manor, and the church in honour of St. Mary the mother of God and of St. Peter the prince of the apostles, together with all the things pertaining to it, the vills, indeed, the chapels, the serfs of both sexes, the vines, the fields, the meadows, the woods, the waters and their outlets, the mills, the incomes and revenues, what is cultivated and what is not, all in their entirety. Which things are situated in or about the country of Macon, each one surrounded by its own bounds.. I give, moreover, all these things to the aforesaid apostles - I William and my wife Ingelberga - first for the love of God; then for the soul...”
In the very beginning, the monks of Cluny were under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mâcon, but according to the will of Guillaume, the owner of the monastery and its properties was the Pope. Saint Odilon, fifth Abbot, obtained from Pope Gregory V the privilege of exemption. Cluny developed as a Congregation by founding new monasteries and priories or reforming others communities by joining them to its congregation. In the XII century, Cluny had more than 1,400 houses.
There are five of them in the Diocese of Saint Etienne where I am. I could visit two of them already that I am glad to show you. We begin today with the Priory Saint Peter in Pommiers-en-Forez.
The Priory of Pommiers was founded around 834 by monks from Nantua (near Switzerland). In 960 it fell under the authority of the Abbot of Cluny. In 1452 King Charles VII was staying there when he received the news that the English took the city of Bordeaux. The Council of the King took place in the monastery to decide the resumption of the war.
The Priory was confiscated during the Revolution and the monks left in 1790.