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Abbaye de Fleury

St-Benoît-sur-Loire

 

Links to Saint Benedict's Italian Abbeys at Montecassino and, more beautifully, Subiaco

 

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In around 672, a group of monks from Fleury Abbey went to Central Italy and succeeded in taking the bones of Saint Benedict (and those of his sister Saint Scholastica) from the Abbey of Monte Cassino and bringing them back to Fleury for safe keeping.  They have stayed there ever since, sometimes on show, sometimes hidden. 

 

The abbey enjoyed periods in the sun, but not the sort of sustained popularity that you would think would come from the possession of such famous relics.  In the end the monastic buildings were destroyed, and the church itself fell into a decay which was only finally arrested in the latter 1900s with major restoration projects.

 

After WWII the Benedictine monks came back here, and built themselves new monastic buildings so that the Abbaye de Fleury could live again. 

 

The countryside around here (including around the river Loire) is pretty bleak and unattractive, but access and parking at the untouristed abbey are easy, and if your journey route passes nearby, it's worth a visit.  Having said that, there is an attractive looking and reasonably priced hotel called Hotel du Labrador ** (with restaurant) on the other side of the abbey square if you do decide on an overnighter.

 

 

 

 

 

The church from the south west.  Filling the photo is a huge ponderous portico / open narthex structure backed up against the west end of the abbey church.  The guides rate this as the main attraction but we'd go for the nave view any day!  Having said that, some of the cleaned up capitals are indeed beautiful.

 

 

 

The cavalry advances

 

 

 

The Flight to Egypt

 

 

 

Another approach to capital eyes

 

 

 

Saint Martin - though in this representation the usually flamboyant cloak splitting by a mounted swordsman saint is a more pedestrian affair.

 

 

Team Paradox where just as taken with other things ....

 

 

 

 

... like the restored north portal (the roofing is just there for protection) which has ...

 

 

 

 

... a tympanum with the four evangelists scribing and thinking under their respective evangelistic signs ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

... and a lintel showing the incense assisted journey of the casket across half of Italy and France.  Imagine what it looked like when it was all painted!

 

Inset into the rest of the north wall are the remnants of reliefs .... preachin', fightin', huntin', sittin' .....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery spandrel activity .......

 

 

And in the beautifully dimensioned Abbey Church ......

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like Daniel (with flaked lion)

 

 

The nave is well proportioned and full of light, helped by the light coloured stone ......

 

 

 

 

... and the ambulatory area is a particularly balanced and attractive piece of Romanesque architecture, though sadly it could not be accessed (2007) because of renovation work.  At the gallery level there is a U shaped triforium (blind arcade) containing 40 or so narrative capitals ... again, out of photographic range.

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting faces and serpent acrobats in this take on Adam and Eve - where did the faces come from ?

 

 

 

 

... and the ground level semi-circular east end crypt under the ambulatory is a light and friendly resting place for St-Benoît's bones ... no mention of his sister Santa Scolastica whose bones were originally brought here as well !

 

LINK TO BENOÎT'S ITALIAN ABBEYS AT MONTECASSINO AND SUBIACO

 

 

 

 

 

Postcard showing Fleury from the East - pobably some interesting corbels waiting to be discovered!

 

 

 

Postcard showing a stone relief of the face of the Norman leader Raynaldus

 

 

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