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Abbey of Fontfroide
Fontfroide, Abbey of (B. MARIA DE FONTE FRIGIDO), a Cistercian monastery in the department of Aude, six miles northwest of Narbonne, formerly in the diocese of Narbonne, now in that of Carcassone. It was founded at Narbonne some time before 1097 by Aimery, Count of Narbonne, and was originally a filiation of the Benedictine abbey of Grandselve. In 1118 the monks settled at Fontfroide, so-called from a spring in the place where the new monastery was built, and in 1146 the Cistercian reform was adopted. The abbey held a position of considerable importance in the Middle Ages and many of its abbots and monks were drawn from the nobility and highest families of France. One, Jacques Fournier, was elevated to the papacy as Benedict XII in 1334; some became cardinals, amongst whom were Arnaud Novelli (1310), Augustin Trivulce (d. 1548), and Hippolyte d'Este (d. 1572); and several others became Bishops of Narbonne or neighboring churches. In the seventeenth century three successive abbots were members of the de La Rochefoucauld family. Fontfroide was the burial place of the Counts of Narbonne, its chief patrons, and it had also many royal benefactors.
In 1401 the use of abbatial pontificalia was granted by Benedict XIII, and other papal privileges were conceded at different times. The abbots also exercised civil jurisdiction over their dependents. The abbey escaped the intrusion of commendatory abbots, so common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and flourished under the rule of monastic superiors right up to the time of the Revolution, when it was suppressed. The buildings then became private property and, dismantled and untenanted, were gradually falling into decay, when, in 1858, they were purchased for a sum of eighty thousand francs by Pere Marie-Bernard (Louis Barnouin), the founder of the "Cistercians of the Immaculate Conception" and restorer of the abbey of Senanque, which had been incorporated into the Order of Citeaux a year previously. A colony of about a dozen monks, under Pere Marie-Jean, as first abbot of the restored Fontfroide, was sent there from Senanque. In 1905 the "Association Laws" obliged them to leave, and the community is now domiciled at Tarrega, in the province of Lerida, Spain, in the diocese of Solsona. It numbers about thirty-one members, of whom fourteen are priests. They belong to the "Cistercians of the Common Observance", who were separated from the Trappists or "Stricter Observance" in 1834. The monasteries of Fontfroide and Hautcombe (in Savoy) now form the "Congregation of Senanque", formerly that "of the Immaculate Conception", of which the present Abbot of Fontfroide is the vicar-general. Its constitutions were approved in 1892. The buildings at Fontfroide are chiefly of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and include the church, cloisters, chapter-house, etc.. comprising two quadrangles, all practically complete.
G. CYPRIAN ALSTON