We don’t know exactly when the abbey was founded. But we know that Saracens damaged the city and the monastery in the 9th century. So, king Charlemagne’s bishop, Leidrade, restored the church and the religious buildings: at that time 32 nuns lived here.
Carolingian kings gave lot of money to them; yes, they were very rich! And independent... they owned about 15 abbeys in Lyon area and even in the Dauphiné. In Lyon city, they owned lands on the hill called Croix-Rousse, where stood ruins of an old Roman city.
The abbey became very wealthy, very powerful thanks to the money the kings gave, and thanks to nuns' dowries: indeed, those nuns were born in noble families, so we found among abbess a Montmorency lady, a Cossé-Brissac one... because, in order to enter the convent, they had to show 4 degrees of nobleness on the father and the mother's sides!... Some of those young ladies came from the age of 5, here.
But... beware! Decadence and perversion ruled here... Oh, yes, for sure! Parties, orgies, debauchery... Nuns soon forget their chastity wows, if you see what I mean! In the 16th century, archbishop of Lyon, François de Rohan, wanted to change this: he enforced her to work and obey! Ouch, those ladies were accustomed to wealth and idleness, so it was a pretty hard blow for them! They refused, said that nothing could be impose like that. Finally, the reform took place.
But at the same time, surprise! People started to talk about a ghost which haunted the convent. Yes! The ghost of Alix de Tézieux, an old lady from the abbey, died very poor in a village near Lyon.
One of the nun of Saint-Pierre in particular, Antoinette de Grolée, said that a kind of blow woke up every night, and she heard footsteps around her bed. But she saw that there was no one... and she felt a kiss on her lips! Oh, it was because gossips said she was Alix’s mistress!...
Into a panic, Antoinette talked to this to the mother superior, who immediately asked the ghost to show up by knocking on the wall. Knock, knock, answered the spirit... after this, they started an exorcism, in 1527.
The case was widely talked about, even a book was published in 1528, called La merveilleuse histoire de l'esprit qui depuis naguère est apparu au monastère des religieuses de Saint-Pierre de Lyon, "The amazing story of the ghost who appeared in the monastery of St-Pierre of Lyon". You know what? I thinks it was a big hoax just to calm down those ladies...