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Notre-Dame de Saint-Lieu Sept-Fons
Located in the Diocese of Moulins in France, it was founded (1132) by Guichard and Guillaume de Bourbon, of the family de Bourbon-Lancy, which gave kings to France, Italy, and Spain; this gave rise to the name "Royal Abbey". Thanks to the liberality of the founders, and to the energy of the abbot and community, the church was soon completed and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; the monastery, with all the regular structures prescribed by the rule, was completed at the same time. After exhibiting generosity at the beginning, their founders and friends seem to have neglected them, for the monks found the burden of poverty so heavy, that they were even compelled to sell parts of the lands to supply the necessities of life. Until the Reform of 1663, the number of religious never exceeded 15. They were much encouraged, in their early days of trial, by a visit of St Bernard (1138). At first the monastery was only known under the name of "Notre-Dame de Saint-Lieu"; it was only after a century that "Sept-Fons" was added, derived either from seven fountains or from seven canals leading water to, the Abbey. Adrian III took the monastery under his protection in 1158; and Alexander III ratified the foundation by Bull in 1164.
After the middle of the fifteenth century the incessant wars did not spare the abbey; frequently the religious were forced to leave it and see it despoiled of its goods, and its buildings demolished. Inevitably, under such circumstances, relaxation entered the monastery. In 1656 Eustache de Beaufort, at the age of 20 years, was made abbot. For the first seven years there was no improvement; but after that time he resolved on a complete change. His religious-there were then but four-refusing to accept the new rule, were each granted a pension and dismissed. It was not long before a number of novices presented themselves for admission. They were sent to La Trappe, to make their novitiate under the Abbot de Rancé. Dom Eustache also visited the celebrated reformer for counsel and advice, in 1667. After this, with the royal aid, Sept-Fons was rebuilt on a grander scale, and prosperity continued until the monastery was confiscated at the Revolution, 1791. In 1845, when the Trappists of the Abbaye du Gard were obliged to abandon their monastery, their Abbot, Dom Stanislaus, purchased the ruins of the ancient Abbey of Sept-Fons, removed his community thither, and rebuilt the church and regular structures. In 1847 he was elected vicar-general of the Congregation of the Ancient Reform of Our Lady of La Trappe, which followed the constitutions of the Abbot de Rancé. In 1892, when the three congregations were united in one order, the then Abbot of Sept-Fons, Dom Sebastian Wyart, was elected first abbot-general, and, a little later, Abbot of Cîteaux. Its most noted foundations are N.-D. de la Consolation near Peking, China, and N.-D. de Maristella Estado de S. Paulo, Brazil.
Sept-Fons, ou les Trappistes de N. D. de Saint Lieu (Moulins, 1846); La Trappe, by a Sept-Fons Trappist (Paris, 1870); Sept-Fons, impressions et souvenirs par un ami de ce monastere (Dijon, 1895); MAUPERTUY, Histoire de la reforme de l'Abbage de Sept-Fons (Paris, 1702); MANRIQUE, Annales cisterciences (Lyons, 1642); Gallia christsana, IV; HUGHES, Annales d'Aiguebelle (Valence, 1863); TALLON, Notices sur les monasteres de l'ordre de la Trappe (Paris, l855); PFANNENSCHMIDT, Illustrierte Gesch. der Trappisten (Paderborn, 1873); URBAIN, Memoires manuscrits sur N. D. du Gard et N. D. de Sept-Fons (1910); Decretum apostolicum quo instututae sunt duae congregationes B. M. de Trappa in Gallia (1847).
EDMOND M. OBRECHT