Abbey of Saint Bertin

Saint-Omer, France

The Abbey of St. Bertin was a Benedictine abbey, but today in ruins (the town's town-hall was built with stone from the abbey in 1834) and open to the public. It was dedicated to its second abbot, Saint Bertin.

The monastery was founded on the banks of the Aa in the 7th century by the bishop of Thérouanne, who sent the monks Bertin, Momelin and Ebertram from Omer to proselytize among the pagans in the region. The Abbey of St. Bertin soon became one of the most influential monasteries in northern Europe and ranked in importance with Elnon Abbey and the Abbey of St. Vaast. Its library included the codex of Aratea of Leyde, from which two copies were made. The Annals of St Bertin are an important source of the 9th-century history of Francia.

Already in the 9th century the abbey had a priory in Poperinge. A Romanesque church was constructed in the mid-11th century. It was 25m high, with a 48m high tower, and included a large 14th century semi-circular sanctuary with five side-chapels. It served as a model for the church, whose construction was not completed until the beginning of the 16th century.

From the 12th century the abbey had the right of appointing the priest at Lissewege and Ruiselede (1106). William Clito was buried here in 1128. The abbey had a 'refuge-house' in the now-demolished Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges. The abbey had its greatest flourishing from its inception until the 13th century, though it survived until it was shut down at the French Revolution.

In 1830 the commune demanded the demolition of the church, though they spared the tower, which they strengthened with a buttress in the nave (still visible). However, the tower was weakened by bombardment of the town centre in World War II and collapsed in 1947, leading to the abandonment of the site.

The abbey is known for its Latin-written cartulary (Chartularium Sithiense) whose first part is attributed to Folquin (died in 855 in Esquelbeques).

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Details

Founded: 7th century AD
Category: Ruins in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nathan Scott (2 years ago)
These definitely are ruins, but still nice to see and only a few minutes from the center of town.
Katarzyna Malecka (2 years ago)
Worth to visit, ruins are in a good state
Jessica (2 years ago)
Ruin with parc, lovely if weather is nice. There is not much left of the abbey but what's left is still impressive. The statue in front of the abbey has been cleaned and looks immaculate now. It is a free place so if you are around it is worth seeing. Could do with more information though, like some plaques here and there.
Ives Vanweddingen (2 years ago)
Wonderful ruins. A must see when you're over there.
Marina Omsk (3 years ago)
The abbey was founded on the banks of the Aa in the 7th century by Bishop Audomar of Thérouanne, who is now better known as St. Omer. He sent the monks Bertin, Momelin, and Ebertram from Sithiu (now St-Omer) to proselytize among the pagans in the region. The abbey soon became one of the most influential monasteries in northern Europe
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Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

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Gardens

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