Friday, August 29, 2008

Mary visits the Abbey at Echourgnac in the Dordogne

On the 21st novembrer 1852 eight nuns and novices left the Abbey of Vaise in Lyons and arrived in Espira de l’Agly (Pyr-Or) The new religious order with the name Our Lady of the Angels prospered, built a church and built an abbey which was consecrated by his Eminence Cardinal Desprez Archbishop of Toulouse on 29th November 1883. In 1904 after the severe and repressive French laws banned all religious orders from teaching and social work, they were themselves suppressed on the 4th October and expelled from their abbey, seized by the government, just has English Abbeys 350 years earlier.Many Northern French religious orders helped with the reestablishment of the Church in Wales England, and Monmouthshire benefited from the nuns from Saint Brieux. As St Brioc had travelled to Gaul (Northern France0 to the town named after him, the nuns came to found convents all over Gwent with the powerful help and support of Lady Llanover. Pontypool, Usk, Abergavenny, and Monmouth all benefitted from their help . However this community travelled to Spain over the border, where they travelled to Herrera, an ancient Cistercian Abbey in the diocese of Burgos (on the Camino of St James)until 1923, when the repressive laws against the religious orders were repealed and it was possible to return to France. The government had already sold the Abbey at Espira de l’Agly, so the nuns had to re-install themselves in the Diocese of Perigeux and received from the government the Abbey founded in 1868 by the Trappist Cistercians of Our Lady of Port de Salut (Mayenne), which had been abandoned by them in 1910. Many of these nunneries and abbeys were schools and when the right to teach was withdrawn the brothers and sisters became destitute and had to leave. Here, however, the sisters formed their new home under the protection of Our Lady of Good Hope. They continue their prayers here and live their life of Sacrifice for the Glory of God and the Salvation of Souls. ------------------------- The number of nuns here has grown to 30 and in recent years a splendid retreat house has been built where frequent retreats and conferences have been held. Although the nuns are enclosed, there is a beautiful church and the picture of Our Lady of Good Hope.The church services are all open the public and the gift shop open every morning from 10-12-30and afternoon from 2.30 to 5. The Abbey is to be found in the Dordogne, south of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne and St Aulaye. The singing of the sisters was extraordinarily sweet and I attended and filmed Nones a fifteen minute dedication at 2.15pm.You need to take your own picnic lunch to eat in the glorious grounds if you are making a short day visit.

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