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Notre-Dame de Molesme

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A celebrated Benedictine monastery in a village of the same name, Canton of Laignes (Côte-d'Or), ancient Burgundy, on the confines of the Diocese of Langres and Troyes. St. Robert, Abbot of St-Michael de Tonnere, not finding his monks disposed to observe the Rule of St. Benedict in its original simplicity, left them, accompanied by a few monks and hermits, and selected a spot on the declivity of a hill, to the right of the River Leignes, where, having obtained a grant of land from Hugo de Norlennac, they built a house and oratory from the boughts of trees. Here they lived in extreme poverty until a certain bishop visited them, and, seeing their need, sent them a supply of food and clothing. Members of the noblest families, hearing of the saintly lives of these religious, soon hastened from all parts of the country to join them, bringing in many cases their worldly possessions, which, added to numerous other benefactions, enabled them to erect a church, the most beautiful in the country around, and suitable monastic buildings. The increase in numbers and possessions caused a temporary relaxation in fervour, in so far that the monks ceased to relish the work of the fields, being willing to live on the alms given them. Matters having gone even so far as open rebellion, St. Robert and the most fervent religious left Molesme (1098) and founded Cîteaux, which, though intended as a Benedictine monastery, became the first and mother-house of the Cistercian Order . The monks of Molesms, repenting of their faults, begged Urban II to oblige St. Robert to return to themn, and this request was acceded to (1099); Robert continued to govern them until his death (1110). Besides Cîteaux, Molesme founded seven or eight other monasteries, and had about as many monasteries of Benedictine nuns under its jurisdiction. The church and monastery were destroyed and their possessions confiscated in 1472 during the war between France and Burgundy. The buildings were again burned by the heretics towards the close of the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century the fervour of the monastery was renewed on the introduction of the reform of St. Maur (1648). All the glory of Molesme has now vanished. The magnificent church is razed to the ground, and the monastic buildings are used, a small part as a school, and the rest as common dwellings.


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