Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beaulieu Abbey

I seem to be drawn to Cistercian monasteries. This one, L'Abbaye de Beaulieu-en-Rouergue, sits nestled in a secluded, remote valley in the Tarn-et-Garonne. The Abbey was built in 1144, destroyed during the Albigensian crusade in the early 1200's and re-built in 1275. Only to be destroyed again during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century. It began to dwindle in the 17th and was deconsecrated and sold as farm property in 1791 as the French Revolution raged. It's had a hard life!
But the site met all the requirements for the Cistercian monks who built it. Situated on the Seye River, it had water access as well as enough land surrounding it to support the monks who lived here The site is far enough off the beaten path that the monks could live, work and pray in their ordered silence. It's located 11 km from the market town on Caylus and 7 km from Parisot, a smaller village to the north. Not far by today's driving standards, but a substantial distance by foot or ox cart during the Middle Ages. Yet, both were close enough for the monks to make trips to sell their products and buy necessities.
As is typical of Cistercian monasteries, it does not have a large, impressive entrance. The public was not invited to worship here; services were exclusively for the the ordained monks and lay brothers. And even the lay brothers were kept segregated from the 'real' monks.
Want to see inside? I'll show you what it looks like tomorrow. I think you'll be surprised!

1 comment:

  1. It is a tranquil spot and the abbey itself is beautiful. I only have external shots of it on my blog. Must go inside and take some.