Abbaye de Premontré

l'Abbaye de Prémontré
Premontre, Departement de l'Aisne, Picardie, 02320 France Add to Map
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Of the old abbey, as it was from the 12th to the 16th centuries, hardly anything remains, but 3 large buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries, which are still standing (part of one of which is used as a church, dedicated to Saint Norbert). The "Prémontré Abbey" was the mother house of the Premonstratensian Order at Prémontré. Founded by St. Norbert of Xanten in 1120 (on unused land that had previously belonged to the Abbey of St. Vincent, Laon), which had been given by a former Bishop of Laon. The monks of St. Vincent's tried in vain to cultivate it. As is shown in the charter of donation, the place was called, "Præmonstratus", or "pratum monstratum" ("Pré-montré" AKA Prémontré - probably from "a clearing", pré or meadow, made in the forest). The name, however, easily lent itself to the adapted meaning of "locus praemonstratus", "a place foreshown", as for example in the life of Godfrey of Cappenberg, one of Norbert's first disciples (1127): "Venit ad locum vere juxta nomen suum, a Domino premonstratum, electum et prædestinatum" ("He came to a place truly according to its [very] name foreshown, elect and predestined of the Lord"). The founding tradition says that the Bishop of Laon and Norbert visited Prémontré about the middle of January and that the bishop gave the white habit to Norbert on 25 January, the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. At the conclusion of the Council of Liège (1131), Pope Innocent II and Norbert came to Laon and stayed with Bishop Bartholomew. They also visited Prémontré Abbey and were delighted to see some 500 priests, clerics, and lay-brothers (all united in the observance of their duties under Abbot, Hugues de Fosse). It was the original Premonstratensian custom to establish double monasteries, but in the general chapter of 1141, it was decided to remove the convents of nuns, to at least one league's distance from the abbeys of men. Hugues died on 10-Feb-1161, and was succeeded by Philip, then Abbot de Belval in the Forest of Argonne. Abbot, John II founded, in 1252, a collégiale (or house of studies, for Norbertine clerics at the University of Paris). At the death of Virgilius, 43rd Abbot-General of Prémontré, Cardinal Francis, of Pisa, had intrigued the Court of Rome so much, that he succeeded in being named commendatory, Abbot of Prémontré, and in 1535, took possession of the abbey and all its revenues. Cardinal Francis was succeeded by Cardinal, Ippolito d'Este, the papal legate in France - who also held the abbey in commendam until he died, in 1572. The historian of the abbey, Charles Taiée, calls these two cardinals, "les fléaux de Prémontré" ("the scourges of Prémontré"). After the death of Cardinal d'Este, a free election was held and Jean Des Pruets, Doctor of the Sorbonne, an earnest and zealous priest, was elected, and his election confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII, 14 December 1572. With great ability Des Pruets undertook the difficult task of repairing the financial losses, and of promoting conventual discipline at Prémontré - and other houses of the order. He died on 15 May 1596, and was succeeded by two further zealous abbots, Longpré and Gosset; but the latter was succeeded by Cardinal Richelieu, as commendatory abbot. The last abbot general, L'Ecuy, was elected in 1781. Upon the French Revolution, the abbey was suppressed and confiscated, and the site sold to a certain, Cagnon - who demolished several buildings which were sold as building materials. Having passed through several hands, the property was bought by Paul-Armand de Cardon de Garsignies, Bishop of Soissons - whose successor sold it to the Département of Aisne (though which, the buildings were converted into an asylum - still in use today, ca. 2016).

  • Added: 21 Mar 2016
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2607497