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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Fleury Abbey, France. Abbaye De Saint-Benoît-Sur-Loire.

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

English: Fleury Abbey, Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, Loire, France.
Français: Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France.
Date: July 2005.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Fleury Abbey (Floriacum) in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, Loiret, France, Founded about 640 A.D., is one of the most celebrated Benedictine Monasteries of Western Europe, which possesses the Relics of Saint Benedict of Nursia. Its site on the banks of the River Loire has always made it easily accessible from Orléans, a centre of culture unbroken since Roman times. Today, the Abbey has over forty Monks and is headed by the Abbot, Etienne Ricaud.

Abbo of Fleury (died 1004), a Monk and Abbot of Fleury, was a Theologian of wide-ranging intellect; his "Life" was written by the Chronicler, Aimoin, also a Monk of Fleury. Andrew of Fleury (writing circa 1043) wrote Miracula sancti Benedicti. Hugh of Fleury (died after 1118) was a Monk of Fleury, known for his chronicles and other writings.

English: Coat-of-Arms of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France.
English: Blue, a Silver Cross Charged with Five Red Roses. In the Cantons,
Two Fleurs-de-Lys in Chief and Two Gold Croziers on their Points.
Français: d’azur à une croix d’argent chargée de 5 roses de gueules, cantonnée de 2 fleurs de lys en chef et de 2 crosses adossées en pointe, tous d'or.
Italiano: d'azzurro, alla croce d'argento, caricata di cinque rose di rosso, accantonata da due gigli in capo e da due pastorali addossati in punta, il tutto d'oro.
Français: mem-farita.
Source: Own work.
Artist: User:Ssire.

The Catholic Encyclopedia avers that "from the very start, the Abbey boasted of two Churches, one in honour of Saint Peter and the other in honour of The Blessed Virgin Mary." The Church of Saint Peter was demolished in the 18th-Century; the existing Church, Dedicated to The Virgin Mary, pre-existed the Founding of the Monastery.

After the ravages of The Normans, who penetrated via the River Loire and burned the Monastery buildings, which suffered a catastrophic fire in 1026, this became the great Late-11th-Century Romanesque Basilica, which occasioned the erection of a great Tower, that was intended as The West Front of the Abbey Church, which was completed in 1218.

Decorated Initial "D" from a Mediaeval Sacramentary.
Mediaeval Scribes used the size, colour, decoration, and style of script to help Readers understand a book's contents, and sometimes to mark the function of the different parts of the Text. On this Text Page, the Initial "D", the largest decorative element on the Page, emphasises the beginning of the first Prayer (The "Introit") for The Second Mass of Christmas Day. The Letter "D" is composed of geometric interlace and leaf forms executed in Gold and Silver Ink on a Reddish-Purple ground.

It is attributed to Nivardus of Milan, who worked at Fleury Abbey, France, about 1000 - 1025.
Tempera colours, Gold, Silver, and Ink on Parchment, bound between Pasteboard,
covered with Greenish-Brown Morocco Leaf:
Date: First Quarter 11th-Century.
Current location: The J. Paul Getty Museum.
(Wikimedia Commons)

A Sacramentary, the most important type of Liturgical Book used in the Early-Mediaeval Church, contains the Prayers recited by the Priest at Mass. The Book lay open on the Church Altar, where the Priest Celebrated the Mass. This Ottonian Manuscript includes a full-page Crucifixion and beautiful Illuminated Initials executed in Gold and Silver Ink.

The quality of the decoration of this Manuscript, of which only a fragment survives, suggests that it may have been made for the occasion of the Consecration in 1017 of Hugh, the young son of Robert the Pious, King of France, as Robert's Co-Ruler and Successor.

Since it includes Prayers addressed to Saints Venerated at Beauvais, the Book may have been presented by King Robert to the Bishop of Beauvais, who was present at the Consecration. The writing and Illumination have been attributed to Nivardus of Milan, who worked at The Benedictine Monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, at Fleury, France. In addition to the Gold and Silver Letters, the Manuscript is decorated with elaborate interlace ornament and sprays of leaves that recall Classical and 9th-Century Carolingian models.

The Nave,
Fleury Abbey, France.
Photo: 24 January 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Sabinolembo.
(Wikimedia Commons)

It was here that The Fleury Playbook was compiled, perhaps in Dedication to the new Church. The Tower of Abbot Gauzlin, resting on fifty Columns, forms a unique Porch. The Carolingian-Style Church is about three hundred feet long, its Transept is one hundred and forty feet long. The Choir of the Church contains the tomb of a French Monarch, King Philip I of France, buried there in 1108. Of the Mediaeval Abbey's buildings, only this Basilica survives in the modern Monastery.

The 17th-Century Benedictine Scholar, Jean Mabillon, accepted the Traditional Founding of Fleury Abbey by Leodebaldus, Abbot of St-Aignan (Orléans), about 640 A.D., in the existing Gallo-Roman villa of Floriacum, in the Vallis Aurea, the "Golden Valley". This was the spot selected by the Abbot of St-Aignan for his Benedictine Foundation. Rigomarus was its first Abbot.

The most famous of the Merovingian Abbots was Saint Mommolus, who effected the Translation of the Relics there of Benedict of Nursia. The Monastery underwent a Season of Reform in its Monastic life, about 930 A.D., along the lines first laid out at Cluny Abbey. The Monastery enjoyed the Patronage of The Carolingian Dynasty for generations; it was also central to the political ambitions of The Robertian House, descended from Robert I of France, several of whom had held the Title of Duke of the Franks.

English: Interior of Fleury Abbey.
Français: Abbaye Saint Benoit sur Loire intérieur.
This File: 22 January 2006.
Source: Own work.
User: Nguyenld.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Monk of Fleury, named Helgaud (died circa 1068), was Chaplain to King Robert II and wrote a brief Epitoma vitae Roberti regis. Fleury Abbey had particular significance in lending legitimacy to its Patrons. Although Royal and Ducal Patronage had material advantages, there was also a price to be paid in terms of Monastic autonomy, when the Ducal candidate conflicted with the choice of the Monastic Community.

Theodulphus, Bishop of Orléans, established at Fleury a School for Young Noblemen, recommended there by Charlemagne. By the Mid-9th-Century, its Library was one of the most comprehensive ever assembled in the West, and Scholars such as Lupus of Ferrières (+ 862 A.D.) travelled there to consult its Texts. Later, under Saint Abbo of Fleury (Abbot 988 A.D. - 1004), Head of the Reformed Abbey School, Fleury Abbey enjoyed a second Golden Age; it kept up close relations with Abbeys in England. Later, among the Non-Resident Abbots in commendam, were Cardinals Odet de Coligny and Antoine Sanguin, in the Reign of François I and Cardinal Richelieu.

Like all Benedictine Monasteries in France, the Community was scattered by The French Revolution. Nevertheless, a Benedictine presence remained continually; the Parish was held by a Monk disguised as a Secular Priest, and there were numerous attempts to restore the Monastery throughout the 19th-Century.

Choir Stalls,
Fleury Abbey, France.
Photo: 22 October 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Manfred Heyde.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, in 1944, the Community (which had been resident at Pierre-qui-Vire) was restored to the Abbey, which was rebuilt as a Member of The Subiaco Congregation. The Monastery is remembered each day at Evensong, in Winchester Cathedral, England, with an additional Prayer at The Conclusion of The Responses (The Fleury Prayer).

Fleury Abbey is reputed to contain the Relics of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the Father of Western Monasticism, a claim disputed by the Monks of Monte Cassino. Mommolus, the second Abbot of Fleury, is said to have effected their Transfer when that Abbey fell into decay after the ravages of The Lombards in the 7th-Century A.D. Benedict's Relics, and the Miracula S. Benedicti developed over three Centuries by five Monks of Fleury, including Andreas of Fleury (circa 1043), attracted Pilgrims, bringing wealth and fame. The Monks of Monte Cassino impugned the claims of Fleury Abbey, but without ever showing any Relics to make good their contention that they possess the body of the Founder.

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