Sablonceaux Abbey

Sablonceaux, France

Sablonceaux Abbey is a former Augustinian monastery established in 1136 by William X, Duke of Aquitaine. He initially supported antipope Anacletus II against Pope Innocent II during the papal schism of 1130, but changed his mind after the intervention of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and tried to demonstrate his good faith by offering to the Church two valuable monastic foundations, Fontenay-le-Comte Abbey in Vendée, and Sablonceaux Abbey.

Construction began before 1160, and the abbey was already powerful by the late 12th century, strengthened by the constant support of the archbishop of Bordeaux.

During the Hundred Years' War, the abbey was threatened with destruction. The bell tower was damaged, and rebuilt in the Gothic style, as it is still to be seen today.

During the French Wars of Religion, there were further battles around the abbey, which supported the Catholic side. From this time onwards the moral standards of the community began to decline, and the behaviour of the monks eventually became scandalous.

In 1633, the abbey came under the control of Chancelade Abbey. Commendatory abbots took over at this time, the first of whom, Henri d'Escoubleau de Sourdis, archbishop of Bordeaux, went to great lengths to reverse the moral and spiritual decline of the community.


During the French Revolution, the abbey was sold off as a 'national asset' and the limestone buildings were quarried. Two of the church's cupolas were destroyed.

In the 19th century, the abbey again became a place of prayer, but the bishop of La Rochelle closed it down because of the dangerous state of the buildings. It was afterwards sold repeatedly, and fell increasingly into ruin.

In 1986, the diocese of La Rochelle decided to buy the abbey, in order to make of it a spiritual centre, a house of spiritual retreat (and hospitality to tourists), and also an artistic establishment. It gave this triple mission to the Chemin Neuf Community.



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Founded: 1136
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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User Reviews

Sylvie GARROS (5 months ago)
Surrounded by meadows and woods, Sablonceaux Abbey appears majestic at the bend of a road. After visiting the site, it is a good idea to soak up the surrounding countryside by walking "Le chemin des priests", an 8km walk that is easy but very pleasant.
Mathilde (10 months ago)
A beautiful abbey even if there are not many things to visit, apart from the abbey church, but which is very beautiful and conducive to meditation. The visit is free, so don't hesitate, but only if you are nearby.
Sylvain (13 months ago)
Free visit. Quiet place conducive to a spiritual retreat. Not much to visit on the self-guided side. The architecture is interesting. The whole thing is quite refined.
Marieke Pouw (15 months ago)
Sisterhood of the blue Rose church
Julie Brooks (2 years ago)
I visit this Abbaye every time I come to France ... I never tire of it's history & beauty.
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