In the mid-12th century, a priest named Turstin withdrew to a wooded Norman hill to live as a hermit, where he was quickly joined by a circle of followers. When Turstin died in 1200, the bishop of Bayeux established the community under the Rule of St. Augustine. Turstin's brother-in-law Raoul de Percy donated land for the abbey. Over the following years, the abbey continued to receive donation from nobility and farmers. At the end of the 13th century, a church and monastic buildings were built to replace the hermitage. In 1343 the abbey's gifts were interrupted by the Hundred Years' War and rivalries between pro-French and pro-English lords in the area. In 1347 the Black Death killed a third of the population, the abbey's lands were uncultivated and the Bessin was ravaged by armed bands. The abbey itself was ravaged by Richard Fitz Alan, 11th Earl of Arundel, in 1389.

Mondaye flourished again under the abbacy of Jean Feray (1512-1557). Its monks attended the university of Caen and included many doctors of theology among them. However, this high period was interrupted by the French Wars of Religion, with the abbey burned, its treasures dispersed and its abbot Julien Guichard killed by Huguenots on 5 September 1564. After the Council of Trent, calm returned and the monastery church was restored thanks to support from Anne de Médavy.

In 1631, Claude Leclerc du Tremblay was appointed commendentory abbot by the king and headed the abbey for the next 75 years. The Lorraine reform revising the Saint Norbert rule and making it stricter and closer to its origins was adopted by Mondaye abbey in 1655. Choosing a prior by the chapter of the congregation partly avoided the disadvantages of a commendatory abbot.

A total reconstruction was began between 1704-1763 to the new classicist style, to meet the then-prevailing need for grandeur in France. The church, monastic buildings, entrance pavilion and farm were all rebuilt, though with the order's austerity maintained by small cells and by only having chimneys in the prior's lodging, the warming house and the infirmary. In 1763 the abbey again fell under a commendatory abbot and building work stopped.

On the French Revolution the Premonstratensian order was despoiled of its goods and the 17 monks at Mondaye were dispersed or imprisoned. One of them was father Paynel, curé de Juaye, who took the oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy before abandoning the priesthood to become mayor. Paynel did, however, reconcile with the church, saving the abbey church from destruction and taking nine priests opposed to the civil constitution into his house. Once the revolutionary turmoil was over, Father Goujon ceased to be clandestine prior and gathered together the local parishes. From 1806 to 1812 the monastic buildings housed a collège.

The Premonstratensian order moved back into the buildings on 13 June 1859, when the bishop of Bayeux solemnly handed back the keys to it to canons coming from the Belgian abbey at Grimbergen. The community underwent a major phase of expansion and increased their number of parochial missions, preaching tours and retreats. It also restarted work on building north and south wings in the classical style.

In June 1944 the Allied landings subjected the abbey to many days of bombing and, despite being completely restored, the abbey walls are still marked by the fighting in its surroundings. Rebuilding works on the most badly damaged part of the church began in 2007. The church, monastic building, pressoir, pavilion, enclosure, grange, grange aux dîmes, cloister and interior decor are now listed together as a monument historique.

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Details

Founded: 1200
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ray Butten (12 months ago)
D Day 75 trip for my Regimental Association and Abbey Mondaye was a location where the squadron harboured for a few days. A fantastic place.
wayne salvidge (2 years ago)
Such a beautiful place
Kevin Horne (2 years ago)
Lovely car park.
Nigel O'Shea (2 years ago)
A very interesting site on the Naval Base. Note the Swansea City emblem on the back of the jeep in one of the pictures
Andrew Campbell (2 years ago)
Beautiful early 18th century Abbey with housing for the monks and gardens. Well worth a visit. There is a shop selling gifts etc.
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