Fleury Abbey and its Monks
Founded in the 7th century, Fleury Abbey overlooks the village of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire and is among the Loire Valley’s finest monuments. A masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, both the Abbey and its monks played a major role in the religious life of the surrounding community.
Around the year 672, the Fleury monks set off on an expedition to Monte Cassino, where they discovered the abandoned relics of Saint Benedict. The community of monks brought them back to Saint-Benoît, hence transforming Fleury Abbey into a pilgrimage site. Thanks to their generous donations, the pilgrims contributed towards the abbey’s development.
The monastery was occupied by monks up to the French Revolution, when they were chased out. The abbey was then sold as national property, before falling into oblivion. It was only in 1944 that Fleury Abbey’s religious vocation was resumed, upon the return of a monastic community. These monks were behind the construction of the modern monastery you can admire today.
The church was built on a mound to protect it from the waters of the Loire and the Bonnée. The origin of the Abbey’s name (Fleury) comes form the nearby Gallo-Roman villa ‘Florius’. The present-day building is in fact the fourth church to have been built on the same spot and nothing remains of the original 11th century edifice. From the 11th to the 13th century, an exact replica of the abbey-church was rebuilt, stone by stone. The porch tower was the first to be built from 1004 to 1030, under the impetus of the Abbot Gauzlin. The ambulatory chevet and chapels followed – to be completed in 1108. Finally, the nave was built between 1160 and 1207. It became the parish church around 1803 and is devoted to the Virgin Mary and Saint Benedict.
Only the abbey-church and the crypt are open to the public. The monastery and workshops are still private.
The abbey-church is open every day from 6.30am to 10pm.
And it’s well worth a detour : From the outside, you can admire, the porch tower and its capitals – the very first ‘historiated’ capitals in French Romanesque art – which proffer the edifice with a truly majestic allure. And to admire the chevet, approach the abbey from Rue de Fleury. As you enter, you can but cast your gaze upon the remarkable choir and its pavings. Your visit continues with a tour of the crypt, which boasts a double ambulatory. This is where the relics of Saint Benedict are stored.
The monastery provides visitors with a team of monks and volunteers who are delighted to be your guide.
In the high season – from April to October, visits from a minimum of 5 participants :
- On Sundays and public holidays, visits are, in principle, at 3.15pm
- Saturdays: 2.45pm
Please enquire at the monastery gatehouse for visits.
Contact the Brother in charge of visits and pilgrimages :
45 730 St Benoît-sur-Loire
Please note that worship has priority over all other cultural activities (basilica tours or concerts).
The Benedictine book store
Located outside the abbey, the monks’ boutique is open to all visitors. You will find locally produced art, craft, and fare, such as porcelain and sweets, together with a range of religious objects and a vast choice of books.
For further information : www.magasin.abbaye-fleury.com