The obscure origins of the great Cistercian abbey at Reims lie in a little chapel of the 6th century dedicated to Saint Christopher, its success was founded on its acquisition of the relics of St. Rémi in 553: subsequently gifts poured in upon it from pious donors. By the 9th century, the abbey possessed about 700 domains and was perhaps the most richly endowed in France. It seems probable that secular priests were the first guardians of the relics, but were succeeded by the Benedictines. From 780 to 945, the archbishops of Reims served as its abbots. At the abbey, Charlemagne received Pope Leo III.
In 1005, the abbot Aviard undertook to rebuild the church of Saint- Rémi, and for 20 years the work went on uninterruptedly before vaulting collapsed, no doubt from insufficient buttressing. Abbot Theodoric erected the separate magnificent surviving Cathédrale de Nôtre-Dame de Rheims which Pope Leo IX dedicated in 1049. From 1162 to 1182, there was further rebuilding, this time to the choir, replacing the short eastern section of the Romanesque church to create a grander and more spacious interior for the shrine of St Remy which was detached from its previous location, next to the altar, and moved further east. It was also given a Gothic vaulted roof.
Destroyed by the Germans during the First World War but restored since, it has played the same role in France as Westminster Abbey in England. It was there that was kept the Holy Ampulla containing the Saint Chrême (chrism), which allegedly was brought by a white dove (the Holy Spirit) at the baptism of Clovis in 496, and was used for marriage of King Henry I of France and Anne of Kiev on 19 May 1051, and during the Council of Reims in 1131, Pope Innocent II anointing and crowning the future Louis VII, as well as the consecrations of King St. Louis in 1226, Charles VII (attended by Jeanne d'Arc) in 1429, and Charles X.
GPS Coordinates: 49.24314, 4.04206
- Added: 6 Mar 2002
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #1131137
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