"Write no more to me, Heloise, write no more to me; ’tis time to end communications which make our penances of nought avail. We retired from the world to purify ourselves, and, by a conduct directly contrary to Christian morality, we became odious to Jesus Christ. Let us no more deceive ourselves with remembrance of our past pleasures; we but make our lives troubled and spoil the sweets of solitude. Let us make good use of our austerities and no longer preserve the memories of our crimes amongst the severities of penance. Let a mortification of body and mind, a strict fasting, continual solitude, profound and holy meditations, and a sincere love of God succeed our former irregularities."
An excerpt from the last letter of the tragic correspondence between the theologian Abélard and his former student (and at the time of this letter, nun) Héloïse. Theirs was one of the most famous romances ever committed to paper. They also happen to be approximate contemporaries with the church (and Cistercian monastery) at Varnhem, whose environs are pictured above.
Even if their countries of residence differed, the two lovers and the monks at Varnhem inhabited an identical world of ideas and ideals. The European Christian community of the Middle Ages strove for homogenity and a uniformity of mind. As a result, a monk's life in Sweden was filled with the same duties and chores, and the monk's mind with the same view of the Cosmos, as those of his brothers and sisters on the continent.