Abbey of Saint-Arnould

Metz, France

The Abbey of Saint-Arnould is a Benedictine abbey residing in Metz since the 6th century. It was named the Church of the Holy Apostles in 715. It stood in front of medieval ramparts of the Hôpital Notre Dame de Bon Secours, near the Roman road leading to Toul and Lyon.

In 717, the Abbey took the name of St. Arnulf, due to the relics of Arnulf of Metz, Bishop of Metz, having been interred there in 641. Charlemagne made this abbey the burial place of his family: his wife Hildegarde, sisters, son, Emperor Louis the Pious, and Bishop Drogo were all buried here.

It was destroyed by the Normans in the 9th century when they plundered Metz. However, the abbey was rebuilt in the same location and, in 1049, saw the consecration of a more grandiose church, which suffered a fire in 1097.

The siege of Metz by Charles V in 1552 led to the destruction of the abbey. The abbey was transferred to inside the walls of the Dominican convent of preachers, built in 1221. The church was rebuilt in the 17th century. These buildings can be seen today, in particular the cloister, the refectory, and the former sacristy.

During the French Revolution, the Abbey was confiscated as property of the state, the monks were expelled, and the imperial tombs were destroyed. Part of the tomb of Louis the Pious is conserved in the museum of Metz. After the Revolution, vineyards were planted on part of the site of the abbey.

The Abbey of Saint-Arnould has a Pietà carved around 1520. It was 'walled up' above one of the entrances to the chapel of the abbey during the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), following an edict from the mayor of Metz ordering all religious images to be hidden from public view; but it was rediscovered in 1990 during construction work (the site of the chapel is the current tennis court behind the Governor's Palace). Dated around the 10th century, it is one of the most beautiful polychrome Pietà known in the world.



Your name


Rue aux Ours 9, Metz, France
See all sites in Metz


Founded: 13th century
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

More Information


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ada Kranendonk (12 months ago)
Too bad it has become a hotel, now we could not visit it. Data was not updated on the internet, is still described as an abbey
Frédéric Mayer (13 months ago)
Military hotel, very nice building
Aurelie Delfour (2 years ago)
Warm welcome, very well housed and well located in the city center.
Eric Tison (2 years ago)
I loved visiting this old abbey, some remains of which date from the 13th century. The ancient Saint-Arnoul abbey preserved the memory of the most eminent representatives of the Carolingian dynasty. Indeed, four of Charlemagne's children and his wife were buried in the abbey which was then located outside the city walls, approximately on the site of the former Bonsecours hospital near the Bonsecours church. This venerable construction was completely razed in 1552 to protect Metz by preventing the troops of Charles V from taking up position there. The Benedictines of Saint-Arnoul who occupied the premises were then rehoused in the Dominican convent, a vast building located inside the enclosure in the current rue aux Ours. In 1661, restorations were undertaken on the conventual buildings and on the abbey church which dated back to the 13th century. Shortly after, reconstructions were undertaken between 1664 and 1661 under the direction of the architect Antoine Grabert. It concerns the cloister, the chapter house, the sacristy and the refectory. Between 1741 and 1748, architects Louis and Claude Barlet were responsible for rebuilding the abbey mansion. The revolution put an end to the existence of this institution whose buildings were assigned to the barracks of the School of Engineering in 1796. Throughout the 19th century, the convent buildings and the church were modified to adapt them to military needs. It is in this context that, among other things, is installed the observation turret located at one end of the nave of the partially demolished church. This tower, erected in 1852 at the request of Lieutenant-Colonel Goulier, made it possible to monitor the maneuvers of the cadets outside the barracks. Between 1870 and 1918, the buildings served in turn as a German war school and as a casino. On May 15, 1919, the Circle of Officers was inaugurated there and on February 24, 1986, the former abbey was listed in the supplementary inventory of historical monuments. From the outside, seeing the west wing of the conventual buildings preceded by a triangular garden and bordering the Rue aux Ours, there is nothing to suggest that it is a monastic complex. The very refined construction rises on two levels. The walls are coated and only the frames of the semi-circular arched windows are in Jaumont freestone. When one enters the cloister, the religious function of the whole is finally revealed, and one cannot help but see similarities there with the cloisters of Saint-Vincent and Saint-Clément. Here too, only the first level is entirely in freestone. The T-shaped pillars are topped with volutes and the keys of the semicircular arches are protruding and carved. The second level is openworked by rectangular windows of which only the frame is in freestone. The galleries are groined, separated by semi-circular transverse arches which rest on pilasters with Doric capitals on the side of the wall. The old refectory is particularly elegant. It is a vast room with two parallel naves separated by swollen columns with Corinthian capitals. Do not leave the place without having admired the remarkable group sculpted in limestone. It was discovered by chance during work carried out in 1990. It is a Pietà probably dating from the last half of the 16th century. As Mary gazes at her dead son, Adam's skull at Golgotha ​​lies beside her. To continue the tourist visit to Metz, we can go see the bishopric of Metz place Sainte-Glossinde and have my explanations on the Sainte-Glossinde church, which I left in Google Map... Otherwise, we can now head towards the column of Merten located at the entrance of the rue Serpenoise, then towards the old 'Hôtel Particulier de Gargan. Please, put "a like or useful" to encourage me in my approach. Thanks. Best regards. Eric Tison. F-57 Mosel.
gilles brayer (2 years ago)
Very beautiful building, steeped in history Warm welcome and good advice. Very decent accommodation and in the city center.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

The Church of the Holy Cross

The church of the former Franciscan monastery was built probably between 1515 and 1520. It is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Rauma. The church stands by the small stream of Raumanjoki (Rauma river).

The exact age of the Church of the Holy Cross is unknown, but it was built to serve as the monastery church of the Rauma Franciscan Friary. The monastery had been established in the early 15th century and a wooden church was built on this location around the year 1420.

The Church of the Holy Cross served the monastery until 1538, when it was abandoned for a hundred years as the Franciscan friary was disbanded in the Swedish Reformation. The church was re-established as a Lutheran church in 1640, when the nearby Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed by fire.

The choir of the two-aisle grey granite church features medieval murals and frescoes. The white steeple of the church was built in 1816 and has served as a landmark for seafarers.