La Trappe Abbey is the house of origin of Reformed Cistercians or Trappists, to whom it gave its name. It began as a small oratory chapel to the Virgin Mary, built in 1122 by Rotrou III, Count of Perche, as a memorial to his wife Matilda (n illegitimate daughter of Henry I, who drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120). A few years later Rotrou built a monastery adjoining, which he offered to the monks of Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey near Dreux, a house of the Order of Savigny. The order was highly respected at that time for its fervour and holiness.
In 1140 the monastery of La Trappe was raised to the status of abbey. In 1147 Savigny Abbey, with all its affiliated monasteries, was united to the Cistercian Order. From that time onwards, La Trappe was a Cistercian abbey, immediately subordinate to the abbot of Clairvaux.
After years of prosperity, La Trappe suffered during the Hundred Years' War. It was in the path of both the English and French armies. The monks were forced to abandon the monastery, which was burnt and pillaged in 1376 and again in 1465. In the 16th century, after the reconstruction, the abbey, in common with many other monasteries, was given to a series of absentee abbots in commendam. The lack of leadership depressed its fortunes.
The 14th commendatory abbot, installed in 1662, Armand Jean le Bouthillier de Rancé, godson of Cardinal Richelieu, proved to be La Trappe's greatest leader. De Rancé experienced a religious conversion which led him to take his responsibilities seriously. He became abbot in fact as well as in name. From 1664 La Trappe was the centre of a thorough reform of the Cistercian Order, led by de Rancé. The reform movement took the name of the abbey and became renowned as an order.
The abbey did not escape the general fate of religious houses under the French Revolution. Pursuant to the decree of 13 February 1790 against the religious orders of France, the abbey was suppressed. Some of the monks were martyred. Others, under the then-abbot, Dom Augustin de Lestrange, went into exile, initially at La Valsainte Charterhouse in Switzerland. The French government sold the abbey as national property. Dom Augustin purchased the property in 1815. When the community returned, the brothers found the premises in a ruinous state. They had to rebuild the monastery in its entirety. The new church was consecrated on 30 August 1832.
The abbey's reputation as a place of retreat continued. It attracted both the Count of Artois, afterwards Charles X and Louis Philippe in 1847. In 1880 the Trappists were expelled under French laws against religious institutions, but after a couple of years, they were able to return. The monastery was entirely rebuilt and the new church was consecrated in 1895.
The Neo-Gothic abbey buildings are still occupied by the Trappist community. La Trappe Abbey directly supervises four other Trappist houses.References:
Stavanger Cathedral is Norway's oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. Stavanger was ravaged by fire in 1272, and the Cathedral suffered heavy damage. It was rebuilt under bishop Arne, and the Romanesque Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic style.
In 1682, king Christian V decided to move Stavanger's episcopal seat to Kristiansand. However, on Stavanger's 800th anniversary in 1925, king Haakon VII instated Jacob Christian Petersen as Stavanger's first bishop in nearly 250 years.During a renovation in the 1860s, the Cathedral's exterior and interior was considerably altered. The stone walls were plastered, and the Cathedral lost much of its medieval looks. A major restoration led by Gerhard Fischer in 1939-1964 partly reversed those changes. The latest major restoration of the Cathedral was conducted in 1999. Andrew Lawrenceson Smith is famous for his works here.