Fontgombault Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Fontgombault) is a Benedictine monastery of the Solesmes Congregation. In 1091 Pierre de l'Étoile founded a Benedictine monastery on the banks of the Creuse River, near the spring or fount of Gombaud. In the 12th and 13th centuries the abbey experienced vigorous growth and established twenty or so priories. In the 15th century the abbots of Fontgombault had numerous ponds excavated, as was also done at the abbeys of Saint-Cyran and Méobecq, thus contributing to fish husbandry in the Brenne region.
The abbey was sacked and laid waste by the Calvinists in 1569, and was not restored until the end of the 17th century, when Dom Andrieu accomplished the task. In 1741 however the Benedictine community, reduced to five members, was replaced by a community of Lazarists, who established a seminary here and used it as a center for missions in the region.
The buildings were partly destroyed during the French Revolution, when the monastery was nationalised and sold off. It was eventually bought back for religious uses by the Trappists in 1849, who succeeded in re-establishing it as a viable community by redeveloping its agriculture and setting up a kirsch distillery.
But in 1905 the Trappists were expelled from France under the Association Laws and the monastery was secularized and sold off for a second time. The purchaser was Louis Bonjean, who set up a button factory in the premises. At his death in 1914 the buildings were put to use as a military hospital for wounded soldiers of the Belgian army, which it remained until 1918. The Trappists who were expelled in 1905 went on to form the Monastery of Our Lady of Jordan, Oregon in the United States.
In 1948 the empty buildings were restored to the site's original purpose when 22 monks from Solesmes Abbey settled it afresh as a Benedictine community. It is now the most populous of Solesmes' foundations, with over a hundred monks, and has in its turn founded another three religious houses in France — Randol Abbey, (1971), Triors Abbey (1984) and Gaussan Priory (1994) — as well as Clear Creek Abbey (elevated from a priory in 2010) in the United States in 1999. Mass is celebrated in Latin using the traditional pre-Vatican II rite as in the 1962 Roman Missal.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.