Abbey of Blanche-Couronne

La Chapelle-Launay, France

The Abbey of Our Lady of Blanche-Couronne is a former Benedictine and Cistercian abbey located in La Chapelle-Launay.

Some historians hold that the abbey was founded in 1160 for sixteen monks who migrated from another abbey. The earliest documented date for the abbey is 1161, with a reference to 'Ernaud, abbot of Blanche-Couronne' in documents pertaining to a property dispute.

In 1234, a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory IX conferred special privileges on the abbey and put it under the 'rule of Saint Benedict and the institution of the Cistercians'. In 1236, the abbot asked for the abbey to be affiliated with the Cistercians, and in 1336, a new papal bull from Pope Benedict XI placed it under the Cistercians. Then in 1410, the French Pope John XXIII placed it under the Benedictines.

Starting in the 16th century, a series of commendatory abbots began the financial ruination of the abbey. The abbey underwent a revival in the early-mid 18th century, when the Benedictines repaired the chapel (1719) and rebuilt some of the buildings (1743). Nonetheless, by 1767 it was down to 4 monks and was shortly thereafter abandoned. During the French Revolution it was nationalized and in 1791 it was sold to René Vigneron, a lawyer and director of the nearby department of the Vendée.

By 1815, it was in the possession of the Laval family. In 1841, it became the property of the Lecadres, a prosperous French merchant family. In the late 19th century it was inherited by Marie Lecadre, the wife of the painter Auguste Toulmouche, and it became a gathering place for Parisian artists and musicians.

In 1922, the department acquired it with an eye to setting up an insane asylum, but this plan never came to fruition. Reprivatized in 1929, it was occupied first by the English and then by the Germans during World War II.

In 1978, an association was formed to preserve the abbey for the future. By then, it was in very bad repair, with several roofless areas (the abbey choir, the east wing). In 1994, the abbey was classified as a national historic monument and restoration efforts have continued in the years since.


The abbey's columns and capitals date back to the 12th century. The chapter house dates from the 12th to the 18th centuries. The old cloister dates back to the 12th century, while the frescoes date from the 14th century.

The south façade has a carving of the coat of arms of Jean Briçonnet, vice-chancellor of Brittany and the abbey's first commendatory abbot. In the 19th century, this coat of arms was painted in one of the abbey rooms by Jules-Élie Delaunay, who also painted some large murals.



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Founded: c. 1160
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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User Reviews

guillet franck (4 years ago)
Very beautiful abbey under renovation
franck guillet (5 years ago)
Very beautiful abbey being restored...
Nath FIBRO (5 years ago)
Open exceptionally during Heritage Days, the restoration of the abbey began in the spring of 2019 with the East wing.
Fab360VR (6 years ago)
To have ...!! Notre-Dame de Blanche-Couronne abbey is a former Benedictine abbey located in La Chapelle-Launay in Loire-Atlantique. The first known date is 1161, Ernaud, abbot of Blanche-Couronne, was one of the judges who arbitrated a dispute between the canons of the cathedral of Nantes and the monks of Quimperlé for the ownership of the church of Notre-Dame in the city of Nantes. A note from the cartulary of Quimperlé gives him the name of Hervé. According to Nicolas Travers, these are two distinct abbots, Ernaud being Ervée's successor. In 1180, several abbeys, including that of Blanche-Couronne, contributed to the completion of the church of La Grainetière. Some authors believe that the abbey would have been founded for sixteen monks (coming, it seems, from the Abbey of Notre-Dame de la Grainetière, near Herbiers, in the diocese of Luçon in Vendée) in 1160. In 1188, Guérin, lord of Saint-Étienne-de-Montluc, gave the tithes of the parish of the Launay chapel to the chaplain of the abbey. On this occasion, the prior of Pontchâteau, Hugon, who was to receive this subsidy, issued a protest, but justice agreed with the lord and tithes remained in the hands of the chaplain. She was honored in 1234 with a bull from Gregory IX conferring great privileges on her. In 1463, a confession paid homage to the Duke of Coislin for an area of ​​200 newspapers and the abbey house, its church and the cloister then housed sixteen monks. The abbey of Blanche-Couronne, which counted, among its abbots, cardinals of Mâcon and Lorraine, was reformed by Claude Cornulier, from 1638 to 1681. For lack of resources, the abbey requested its transfer to Nantes in 1674... ☺
ArnO. D (6 years ago)
This abbey has a rich history, it is a beautiful place to preserve
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