Cîteaux – Commentarii cistercienses was founded in the Netherlands in the late 1940s as the intersection of two projects: the intention of producing a general history of monasticism in the Netherlands; and the creation of a “Commission d’Histoire de l’Ordre de Cîteaux” (Committee on the History of the Cistercian Order) by the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance at the General Chapter in 1947.
Both projects intended to produce comprehensive works, and both were forced to limit their ambitions. In 1949 an internal history bulletin, Cîteaux in de Nederlanden, was created, and the team of historians was given a more permanent foundation by the creation of a board which met regularly and established annual themes for research. In 1951, under the inspiration of Father Roger de Ganck of Westmalle Abbey and Father Edmond Mikkers of Achel Abbey, this mimeographed bulletin was transformed into a printed journal. In 1959, under the title Cîteaux – Commentarii cistercienses, it opened to wider horizons by including articles in French, English, and German as well as Dutch.
In subsequent years, Cîteaux gained an international reputation and came to be recognised in scholarly circles for the quality of its research, developing in accordance with the views of its editor, Fr Edmond Mikkers (d. 1993).
In 1986, a new editor-in-chief, Brother Jean-François Holthof of Cîteaux Abbey, took over direction of the journal. An editorial board of historians, both academic and monastic, further extended its scholarly and historical scope, and in addition produced the Bulletin d’Histoire Cistercienne over a seven-year period.
Since 1993 Cîteaux has been directed by its current editor-in-chief, Dr Terryl N. Kinder, and a scholarly team which constitutes the editorial board. She has seen the journal evolve from receiving occasional hand-written manuscripts to the gradual digitalization of all aspects of Cîteaux’s production.