Jouarre Abbey was traditionally founded around 630 AD by the Abbess Theodochilde or Telchilde. She was inspired by the visit of St. Columban, the travelling Irish monk who inspired monastic institution-building in the early seventh century. As part of its Celtic heritage, Jouarre was established as a double community of monks as well as nuns, both under the rule of the abbess, who in 1225 was granted immunity from interference by the bishop of Meaux, answering only to the pope.
The Merovingian (pre-Romanesque) crypt beneath the Romanesque abbey church contains a number of burials in sarcophagi, notably that of Theodochilde's brother, Agilbert (died 680), carved with a tableau of the Last Judgment and Christ in Majesty, highlights of pre-Romanesque sculpture. In the mid-ninth century the abbey acquired relics of St. Potentian; the relics assembled at Jouarre attracted pilgrims. The reputation of the house stood so high the abbey received a visit from Pope Innocent II in 1131 and was able to house a synod in 1133. The abbess's submission to the bishop of Meaux did not come about until Bossuet held the post in 1690.
The abbey is an important pilgrimage center. A fortified town was built around it and gave birth to the present city of Jouarre.
At the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre (1572), the abbess Charlotte of Bourbon (1547–1582) converted to Protestantism and escaped from the abbey in a cart of hay, and fled to Germany. She married William I of Orange-Nassau.
The present monastery buildings, once again occupied by Benedictine nuns, date from the eighteenth century; their traditional vegetable and fruit garden are notable.References:
Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.
The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.
Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.
The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.
Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.