Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Trappist Abbaye de Sept-Fons, Dompierre-sur-Besbre, France

This evening I travel to France chiefly to take part in the ordination of four Trappists monks of the Abbaye de Sept-Fons: two to the priesthood (Frères M. Macaire and M. Nathanael) and two to the diaconate (Frères M. Jerome and M. Joachim) on Wednesday, July 22, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

Please pray for them, their community and their ministry. I will return on July 28 (in the meantime, blogging will be intermittent).

The following is from the Wikipedia treatment of the Abbaye de Sept-Fons

First foundation
The Abbaye de Sept-Fons was founded in 1132 as a Cistercian monastery by Guichard and Guillaume de Bourbon, of the family of Bourbon-Lancy which gave kings to France, Italy, and Spain; this gave rise to the name "Royal Abbey". The initial generosity of the founders ensured that the building of the church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the monastery was soon completed.

Thereafter however the monks found themselves poverty-stricken, and were driven to selling off parts of the endowment in order to provide themselves with the necessities of life. They were much encouraged by a visit from Saint Bernard in 1138.

Pope Adrian III took the monastery under his protection in 1158; and Pope Alexander III ratified the foundation by bull in 1164.

The community remained a small one, and until the reform of 1663, the number of monks never exceeded 15.

At first the monastery was only known under the name of "Notre-Dame de Saint-Lieu". It was only after a century that "Sept-Fons" was added, derived either from seven fountains or from seven canals leading water to, the abbey.

From the middle of the 15th century the abbey suffered a great deal from the incessant wars. The monks were often forced to leave it; it was frequently looted and its buildings demolished. Under such circumstances, the discipline of the community was bound to suffer.

Trappist Reform
In 1656 Eustache de Beaufort, at the age of 20 years, was made abbot. For the first seven years there was no improvement; but after that time he resolved on a complete change and decided to join the abbey to the Trappist reform. There were then only four monks, who refused to accept the new rule; he therefore granted each of them a pension and dismissed them. It was not long before a number of novices presented themselves for admission. They were sent to the abbey of La Trappe, to make their novitiate under the Abbé de Rancé, whom Dom Eustache also visited for advice in 1667.
After this, with royal aid, Sept-Fons was rebuilt on a grander scale, and continued in prosperity until the abbey was suppressed in 1791 in the French Revolution.

Second foundation
In 1845, when the Trappists of the Abbaye du Gard were obliged to abandon their monastery, their abbot, Dom Stanislaus, purchased the ruins of Sept-Fons, where he installed his community and rebuilt the church and regular structures. In 1847 he was elected vicar-general of the Congregation of the Ancient Reform of Our Lady of La Trappe, which followed the constitutions of the Abbé de Rancé. In 1892, when the three congregations were united in one order, the then abbot of Sept-Fons, Dom Sebastian Wyart, was elected first abbot-general, and, a little later, abbot of Cîteaux.

Its earlier foundations included Notre-Dame de la Consolation near Beijing, China, and Notre-Dame de Maristella Estado de São Paulo, Brazil.

Novy Dvur
More recently the community at Sept-Fons has settled a daughter house at Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic, the first monastic foundation since the fall of the Communist government, and in 2001 commissioned the English minimalist architect John Pawson to undertake the building conversion.

1 comment:

  1. I remember well my introduction to monasticism in Canada. I was 15 years old and in grade 11. We were studying medieval history, which of course touched upon the development of monasticism in europe. I was attending Nicholson Catholic College in Belleville and our teacher, Jim Peets (r.i.p.), thought we might profit from a visit to a real monastery. I remember feeling shocked to learn that monasteries still existed. I suppose I reacted that way because there were no monastic foundations nearby and because I had only read of monasticism in the context of my history course. We visited the Monastery of St. Benoit du Lac, about 2 hours southeast of Montreal. I think what impressed me the most was the beauty of the buildings and the effort that went into the design.