Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey was founded in 1118 when Simon de Neauffle and his wife Eve donated the land for this foundation to the monks of Savigny Abbey, in order to have a monastery built in honour of the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist. Vital, Abbot of Savigny, accepted their offer, and sent a group of monks under the direction of Arnaud, who became their first abbot. Besides the founders, others of the nobility came to the aid of the new Savigniac community.
As soon as the abbey was well established, many postulants were admitted, thus making possible in 1137 the foundation of Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey in the Diocese of Evreux. In 1148 Vaux-de-Cernay, together with the entire Congregation of Savigny, entered the Order of Cîteaux and became an affiliation of Clairvaux Abbey. From this time on they prospered, building a church in the simple Cistercian style. Over time, additional buildings were constructed, as well as a mill, and a fish farm.
Many of its abbots became well known. Andrew, the fourth, died as Bishop of Arras. Guy of Vaux-de-Cernay, the sixth, was delegated by the General Chapter to accompany the Fourth Crusade in 1203. Three years later he was one of the principal figures in the Albigensian Crusade, which fought against the Cathars. In recognition of his service he was made Bishop of Carcassonne (1211) and is commemorated in the Cistercian Menology. His nephew Peter of Vaux-de-Cernay, also a monk of the abbey, accompanied him on this crusade, and left a chronicle of the Cathars and the war against them.
It was under Thomas, Peter's successor, that Porrois Abbey, a Cistercian nunnery, later renamed the Abbey of Port-Royal, was founded and placed under the direction of the abbots of Vaux-de-Cernay. The ninth abbot, Thibault de Marley (1235-47), a descendant of the Montmorency family, was canonized.
Towards the end of the fourteenth century the monastery began losing its fervour, both on account of its wealth and because of the disturbed state of the Île-de-France during the Hundred Years' War. After the introduction of commendatory abbots in 1542 there was little left of the monastic community beyond the name. In the seventeenth century the community was restored in spirit by embracing the Reform of the Strict Observance as promoted by Denis Largentier. During this time the commendatory abbot was John Casimir, King of Poland. The monastery was suppressed in 1791 during the French Revolution and its members (twelve priests) were dispersed.
The buildings, after passing through various hands, were partly restored after the site was bought by Charlotte de Rothschild in the 1880s, who saved the ruins of the church and part of the buildings, fully restoring the abbey.
Today the buildings are used as a hotel with a capacity for 1,200 persons, complete with restaurant and heliport, but still using the nearby spring as the monks did centuries before.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.