History of the Priory

A place steeped in history classified as a historical monument

The Order of Grandmont

The Order of Grandmont is an eremitic order (hermit) founded by Étienne de Thiers, son of Viscount Étienne II de Thiers and Candide (or Blanche).

Étienne was born in 1046 and at the age of 12 he was entrusted to the dean of the Paris chapter.

When he was appointed bishop of Benevento in Italy, Stephen followed him. On his return, a few years later, after having lived with Calabrian monks, Étienne abdicated in favor of his uncle Guillaume and settled at the foot of the Ambazac mountains, 20 km from Limoges, in the Duchy of Aquitaine. He then founded the hermitage of Muret, around 1076.

This period was marked by the creation of several reform monastic communities: thus, in 1084, Bruno founded the Charterhouse and in 1098 Robert de Molesmes founded the abbey of Cîteaux.

Étienne died around 1124 and his death caused the exodus of his followers to the Grandmont plateau a few kilometers away. The church built on this site will become the mother abbey and the plateau will give its name to the Order, the Order of Grandmont.

The latter will then extend throughout the Middle Ages, and the Mother Abbey will order around 160 those distributed mainly in the great south of France, some in Spain and England, in particular thanks to the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with Henry II of England.

The Order of Grandmont is distinguished by its rules, considered to be the most austere of the Middle Ages. They walk barefoot, live on donations, do not eat meat and do not heat themselves.

Many disciplinary crises will shake up the Order during the centuries of its existence, which will require the intervention of the popes. Despite several reforms, more and more monks are leaving the Order of Grandmont to move towards less austere Orders. The numbers were so short that in 1772 the Order was dissolved. The Priory of Saint-Michel was then attached to the bishopric of Lodève and the last two monks left in 1785.

An unrecognized order

A unique priory

Little remains of the Order of Grandmont. Hermits, not keeping any writings, and who died in 1772, few still remember these strict and austere monks.

And yet, very close to Lodève, the Priory of Saint-Michel de Grandmont remains. It is the last monastery out of 160 in the Order of Grandmont to have been preserved in its entirety. It is the only complete example of the simple and uncluttered Grandmontaine architecture, in the spirit of the monks of this little-known Order.


The austere domain

Grandmontaine architecture reflects the spirit of the monks of this Order: few decorative elements, most of the walls bare, without sculpture or frescoes.

If the Priory is modest in size as a whole, its church, the first element built in the 12th century, stands out for its proportions: almost 28 meters long, 6.70 meters wide and 11 meters high! It consists of a single nave and a vaulted apse at the bottom of the oven surmounting three deep and equal openings, the triplet.

the highlight of the visit

The Coste Rouge dolmen

It is the highlight of the visit to the Megalithic Park. It owes its name to Occitan, Coste-Rouge meaning "red coast" due to the red color of the stone of the tumulus. Popularly called "Grotte aux Fées", this Neolithic vestige was classified as a Historic Monument in 1887, one of the first in the region.

2,500 years old before Jesus Christ, this dolmen is renowned for its peculiarities: its shape, which reminds us of a mushroom, and its central opening in the shape of an oven door.

Legend has it that the monks used this dolmen to provide care. The point of view is also exceptional, the gaze opening onto the Salagou valley and Mont Liausson opposite, and the inactive volcano of Brandou at the back ...

In pictures

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