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Abbey d'Ardenne

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L' Abbey d'Ardenne, the Abbey of Our Lady of the Ardennes, is a former Premonstratensian abbey founded in the 11th century and located near Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe in Calvados, near Caen, France. It is now occupied by the Institute of Contemporary Publishing Archives.


In June 1944, 20 Canadian soldiers were illegally executed at the abbey by members of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. The event has become known as the Ardenne Abbey massacre.

Founding in the 12th century

According to legend, in 1121, a bourgeois from Caen named Ayulphe du Marché (Latinized as Ayulfus de Foro) and his wife Asseline, who were pious and practiced charity, had a vision of the Virgin Mary ordering them to build a chapel in that place. They acquired seven acres of the plot named "Saxons' wells" and erected a priory, which was headed by Canon Gilbert from Picardy. In 1138, the Romanesque church which had succeeded the original chapel, was consecrated by the Bishop of Bayeux, Richard III of Kent.

In 1144, the priory was attached to La Lucerne Abbey, which brought it into the order of Saint Norbert. It became an independent abbey in 1160. Abbot Robert received a donation of a rock quarry in Bretteville-sur-Odon, an important indication of a construction campaign in the 12th century.

Middle Ages

The Ardenne Abbey expanded rapidly, and its heritage became very important.

  • Priory of Saint Vincent de Lebisey (Hérouville Saint-Clair) in 1291.
  • Priory of the Hermitage (Saint-Martin-des-Besaces) in the late 12th century.
  • Priory of St. Thomas (Lion-sur-Mer) in 1328.
  • The priests of twelve parishes in Calvados and Orne were appointed by Ardenne.
  • On February 23, 1230, the choir of the Abbey collapsed and killed 26 monks, among them the third abbot, Nicolas. This disaster would have a significant impact on the abbey's design.

    15th century

    The abbey was affected by the Hundred Years' War.

    On December 14, 1417, during the siege of Caen, the monks had to take refuge in that city to escape the looting of the abbey.

    On June 5, 1450, the abbey was occupied during the siege of Caen by Charles VII of France, who only left it after the surrender of the English garrison on July 5. After the war ended, Abbot Robert Chartier began to rebuild the cloister and a conventual building.


    Abbey d'Ardenne Wikipedia

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