A little history of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire abbey

The abbeyThe abbey | ©Gilbertus / CC-BY-SA

Have you seen this? On the road leading to Saint-Benoît, we can already see the massive silhouette of the abbey. This one was named after saint Benoît's relics, that monks kept in a crypt here, since the 7th century. Monks used to live under their protection, and pilgrims started to came because they performed miracles.

The abbey was founded in 650. In the 8th and 9th centuries, an important intellectual activity started to emerge. But Hundred Years War and later, war of religion, destroyed it. The treasure was plundered (even saint Benoît's relics!) and the precious library devastate.

During the French Revolution, the architect from Orléans Benoît Lebrun owned the abbey and he demolished the main buildings. In the beginning of the 19th century, the abbey church was completely crumbling. In 1836, they started the restoration. Even monks came back in 1944! So new buildings were raised from 1958.

Do you want to come with me, to visit the abbey? Well, let's go! Here's the bell-tower, raised in 1020: the abbey's oldest vestige! It's a massive building with two storeys; it has 54 capitals in the ground floor and 78 on the first floor. These capitals are Romanesque style: they represent Apocalypse but also Christ's childhood and saint Martin's life. Now, the Romanesque choir: books often say it's the most harmonious one in France! Whoa, indeed, such a perfection! 5 windows light up the apse and reveal the marble pavement (which dates back from the first Carolingian church). We also see chapters, in the choir and the transept, which are different from the outside chapters: we have here scenes from the book of Genesis and saint Benoît's life.