A little history of Saint-Ruf abbey in Avignon
Did you know two Avignon popes came from this abbey? Italian Corrado del Suburra (Anastase IV) in 1153 and English Nicolas Breakspeare (Adrian IV) in 1154! This one was the only English pope in History...
At the end of the 1st century, first bishop of Avignon, saint Ruf, founded a small chapel and a convent outside the city walls, near river Durance. Ruf? He was Simon's son, the man who helped Jesus to carry his cross.
He came in Provence to evangelize Avignon: he was its first bishop, circa 70. The little church was mentioned since the beginning of the 10th century.
Then, four canons arrived from Avignon cathedral, Notre-Dame-des-Doms: Pontius, Arnaud, Odilon and Durand. Our four fellows decided to move in the first monastery, raised by Ruf: in 1039, they founded Saint-Ruf order. So they launched the building site.
They raised religious buildings and the church, little by little. But the abbey was plundered by Raymond VI’s troops during the Cathars’ crusades in the 12th century, so monks had to run away on an island near Valencia...
When they came back, they only found ruins. They rebuilt the monastery and fortified it. Then the church was abandoned: in the middle of the 18th century, Saint-Ruf abbot razed it! He only left the bell-tower, we still can see.