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:
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.