The Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse is a Romanesque Benedictine abbey whose origins date to the 7th century. Despite a legend attributing its creation to Charlemagne, the monastic community was founded in the 7th century by the abbot of Narbonne, Nimphridius, who adopted the Benedictine rule. It was elevated to the rank of abbey in 779 and enriched quickly thanks to donation from lords from the neighbourhood and the county of Barcelona, acquiring lands, castles, priories and other assets. During the 12th century it ruled over a large territory encompassing the dioceses of Toulouse and Béziers and the county of Urgell.

It however started to decline during the 13th-15th centuries, when it was reinforced and fortified due to the numerous wars. In the 16th century a bell tower was begun, remaining unfinished after the death of its commissioner, Philippe de Lévis, in 1537. The abbey lived a period of renovation under its second last abbot, Armand Bazin de Bezons, receiving for example a new cloister.

The community of Canons Regular of the Mother of God moved into Lagrasse in 2004. The community, the majority of whom are priests, live in common under the Rule of St. Augustine, and dedicate their lives to the liturgy, which they celebrate in the 1962 extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and to evangelization. Common life, contemplative life, and apostolic life form the three facets of their charism. The canons have begun the massive restoration work necessary to repair the abbey.

The oldest part of the abbey is first abbot house, including a small cloister whose columns' capitals feature scenes of the Luxury. The upper gallery leads to the abbey chapel, dating to the 13th century and with decorated walls.

The Romanesque church was built in the 11th century, with a single nave ending in a presbytery, with a transept and three small apses. There are a new church and a new abbot palace (18th century). Restoration works in the cloister (also from the 18th century) have found remains of an ancient Romanesque portal with a marble sculpted arch, attributed to the Master of Cabestany.

The bell tower has an octagonal plan, with a total height of 40 meters. The monk's dormitory features an ogival vault in timber framework.

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Michael McCarthy said 3 years ago
I love the Monk Dormitory, the arches in the interior is a work of Art.


Details

Founded: 779 AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Richard Platt (14 months ago)
Set in the medieval village this Abbey offers a glimpse into the past life of monks of 600 years ago.
Kevin Butler (17 months ago)
Great historical Abbey, maintained but not modernised. Great historical story in a wonderful medieval village. Well worth a side trip to vist here!
This Moment (2 years ago)
One of those truely exceptional place worth a regular visit...great Saturday market in the old market place. Tons of events throughout the year. Very active Cultural Association. Many great restaurants
Steve Millea (2 years ago)
Beautiful little town with a good selection of restaurants and cafe's. Wonder through single lane old cobble streets that have independent craft shops. Its great for children as the river that runs through the town has a designated swimming area with a life guard. Take goggles to explore the river bed and fish as the water is crystal clear.
Susan McAusland (2 years ago)
Beautiful location. Medieval Abbey very interesting and gives details of tour in many languages. Staff very helpful. Benedictine monastery next door but separate entrance fee. Currently the tower is being renovated and shrouded by scaffolding.
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