The Villelongue Cistercian monastery was first established on the lands of the neighbouring county of Saissac, before being transferred to its present location, around the 12th century: a donation was granted in 1149 to the Cistercian Order, and to Guillaume, a monk who came, with 12 companions, from the abbey of Bonnefont de Comminges. Construction of the monastery began in 1180.
At the beginning of the 13th century, Simon de Montfort rewarded the monks of the Abbey of Villelongue for taking position against the Cathars: he gave them much land as well as the village of Saint-Martin. Villelongue then became a very rich and powerful abbey. Later on, the abbey profited from the King of France's protection.
Weakened by the plague during the 14th Century, then by internal wars during the 15th century, the abbey slowly declined until the French Revolution when it was sold as state property and transformed into a farming property. The domain was thus divided into 2 parts: on one side, the abbey's ruins and on the other, a group of dwellings, in what had probably been the residential area of the former abbey.
Since 1916, the successive owners have tried to bring the abbey back to life and started the most urgent restoration. Colonel Maissiat, in 1916, managed to have the abbey listed as an Historic Monument, thus saving it from being sold and preventing the demolition of the southern gallery of the cloister.
In 1964, the abbey was acquired by the Eloffe family, who are still the owners today.References:
Redipuglia is the largest Italian Military Sacrarium. It rises up on the western front of the Monte Sei Busi, which, in the First World War was bitterly fought after because, although it was not very high, from its summit it allowed an ample range of access from the West to the first steps of the Karstic table area.
The monumental staircase on which the remains of one hundred thousand fallen soldiers are lined up and which has at its base the monolith of the Duke of Aosta, who was the commanding officer of the third Brigade, and gives an image of a military grouping in the field of a Great Unity with its Commanding Officer at the front. The mortal remains of 100,187 fallen soldiers lie here, 39,857 of them identified and 60,330 unknown.