Lérins Abbey is a Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint-Honorat, one of the Lérins Islands, on the French Riviera, with an active monastic community.

The island, known to the Romans as Lerina, was uninhabited until Saint Honoratus, a disciple of a local hermit named Caprasius of Lérins, founded a monastery on it at some time around the year 410. According to tradition, Honoratus made his home on the island intending to live as a hermit, but found himself joined by disciples who formed a monastic community around him. In 426 St. Maximus was elected Abbot and remained for seven years until he was appointed the first documented leader of the Ancient Diocese of Riez. The second Abbot increased the renown of the cloister by his miracles and sanctity. There is also a tradition that Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, studied here in the fifth century, and during the sixth century, Saint Quinidius was a monk at Lérins.

Saint Nazarius (Abbot) (Saint Nazaire), the fourteenth abbot of Lérins, probably during the reign of the Merovingian Clotaire II (584-629), successfully attacked the remnants of paganism on the southern coast of France, overthrew a sanctuary of Venus near Cannes, and founded on its site a convent for women, which was destroyed by the Saracens in the eighth century.

Over the following centuries, monastic life on the island was interrupted on several occasions by raids, mostly attributable to Saracens. Around 732, many of the community, including the abbot, Saint Porcarius, were massacred on the island by invaders. It is said that many of the monks escaped, because Porcarius had been warned of the attack by an angel and had sent them to safety.

After about 300 years, a fortified monastery was built between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. In medieval times, the island became a very popular place of pilgrimage. This was encouraged by the writings of Raymond Féraud, a monk who composed a mythological life of Honoratus.

In 1635 the island was captured by the Spanish and the monks were expelled. They returned from exile in Vallauris two years later, when the island was retaken by the French. The monastery continued to suffer from Spanish and Genoese attacks. The number of monks dwindled to four and, in the pre-revolutionary climate of the time, the monastery was disestablished in 1787. In the French Revolution, the island became the property of the state, and was sold to a wealthy actress, Mademoiselle de Sainval, who lived there for twenty years.

In 1859, the island was bought by the Bishop of Fréjus, who sought to re-establish a religious community there. Ten years later, a Cistercian community was founded, which has remained there since.

There are many ancient chapels surrounding the monastery, plus the stunning surrounding flora and fauna for you to stroll around and discover the beauty of the site. The island is maintained and cultivated ecologically preserved. You can visit the historic monument of the fortified monastery and discover ancient chapels around the perimeter of the island.

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Details

Founded: 410 AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Roman Gaul (France)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rod BKing (18 months ago)
Tranquil and calm... Monks praying in the Abbey sounded amazing
Charles Wright (20 months ago)
Very beautiful and tranquil. It may surprise those not familiar with the bareness of the austere interior, but this is traditional for Cistercian monasteries. Set on the beautiful island of Saint-Honorat
David Thomas (21 months ago)
This time of year (January), very peaceful, but the cafe is not open
Max M. K (21 months ago)
Once you get there it's like going back in time. Spectacular silence , no screaming no smoking. Just beautiful fresh air. Absolute pleasure.
Murray Croft (21 months ago)
Interesting and peaceful island. Restaurant was good and friendly. Ferry service to and from was punctual and efficient. Just a shame some of the French visitors didn't comply with the no smoking ban due to fire risk.
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