Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Legend of the Monastery

It was a day like any other in the year 1211. Jeanette with her baby, Tiennet, was on her way to the monastery perched on the hillside above the bottomless pond of turquoise water. She wasn't happy that she was the laundress for the order of strange nuns who lived in their secluded and remote monastery, but a job was a job. She needed the few coins they paid her. She wasn't happy that she had to bring Tiennet with her either, but there was no one to care for him while she washed and pounded and rinsed the nuns' heavy woolen habits. She crossed herself as she passed the unholy-looking water
and mumbled a quick prayer for protection. At the monastery gate, she handed her baby to the abbess, a stern and unpleasant woman, who would watch Tiennet while Jeanette performed her duties. The work was hard, the day was hot and Jeanette was happy to accept the nuns' offer of lunch. Her full stomach and strenuous morning lulled her into a long nap, and it was late afternoon when she went to fetch her baby. He lay there in the sun and a mother's love welled up in Jeanette. She reached out to stroke his sweet head. His forehead was icy cold! Concerned that he was ill, she threw back the blanket covering him and there to her horror, she saw only his severed head. His body had been cut away, sacrificed by the nuns for their Black Mass, and then eaten. Jeanette remembered her delicious lunch with a nauseating shudder.

In her anguish and horror she screamed curses on the nuns begging God to punish the wicked and evil women. "May the highest stone of this monastery become the lowest!" she cried. With that the walls of the monastery began to crumble and the bottom of the strange turquoise pond opened up to swallow the monastery...its highest stones sinking into the bottomless pit.

It's said that if you come to the Gouffre de Lantouy on the night of St Jean, you can hear the monastery bells ringing far below in the bowels of the earth. The sorrowful ghost of Jeanette roams the valley, wailing and searching for her son. And an odd black hare, thought to be the ghost of the wicked abbess, frightens dogs away from what is left of the ancient monastery walls.


  1. Well, that's a cheerful start to the day. Thanks Evelyn! The water is a spooky turquoise though, a fascinating sight.

  2. What an enchanting, albeit slightly grisly, tale! The Gouffre de Lantouy looks an amazing place to visit - I'll add it to my list.