m. Céline Guilbot
1 place Robert d’Arbrissel
m. Céline Guilbot
Community of Martigné-Briand
The discipline of Liturgical Prayers sees us regularly assembled in the Choir and, in accordance with the monastic tradition, our daily life includes work, spending time together and time alone as well as offering hospitality. (Prime at 5.25 am. Morning Prayer at 7.45 am. Mass at 11.45 am. None at 2.15 pm. Evening Prayer at 5.30 pm. and Compline at 8 pm.) Our small community is well integrated into the ecclesiastical and local life. We like to remember that Robert d’Abrissel had a care for those vulnerable who suffered illnesses and we desire to remain faithful to the principle of care for others, whether in pain or in joy. Bénédicte Wadington-Delmas, while respecting the enclosed nature of the monastic life, wanted to welcome the wider world into the monastery. One way of manifesting this is by inviting guests to eat with the Sisters. Our community is sensitive to the need for unity between Christians and links of deep friendship have developed with the Orthodox as well as the Protestant Churches. Our community is also open to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, notably by our engagement with DIM ( Dialogue Inter-religious Monastique) since its foundation in 1978. Thanks to this association, two Zen-Buddhist nuns from Japan were able to share our monastic life for a time in 2009.
In 1956, at the request of Mgr. Chappoulie, the then Bishop of Angers, the Benedictines of Vanves (founded in 1921 by Mother Bénédicte Wadington-Delmas) were brought together at Chemillé with the last Sisters of the Order of Fontevraud. This created one community known as the Congregation of Saint Bathilde. The community acquired an old Manor House with out-buildings at Martigné-Briand and it moved there on the 15th of August in 1961. For twelve years, various craftsmen from all over Europe came to build the cloister, using stones and wood, in order that it was in harmony with the existing building. The Manor House became the Hostelry, and the barn was converted into a church that featured a tabernacle that represented a grain of wheat that was split into two. Our name, Our Lady of Compassion, and our Patronal Festival held on the 15th of September are a discreet reminder of Fontevraud. Its founder, Robert d’Abrissel, in the 11th century had placed the Order under the patronage of St. Mary and St. John at the foot of the cross. Being part of the universal Congregation of Saint Bathilde affords us both solidarity and independence. The nine monastic foundations associated with each other are now established in four countries of France, Madagascar, Vietnam and Bénin, and on three continents.
The monastery is funded by its craft industry. The work-place for our well known and appreciated jams was completely renovated in 2014. The workshop where we produce icons is no longer as profitable as the more popular pottery that we produce, thanks notably to our biennial sales exhibitions. New lines in earthenware and porcelain have been added to our range with table settings and decorative fountains. The workshop is a place of creativity and equilibrium in life. We also have a small shop. We welcome groups, in the hostel, individuals and couples. As we are situated in a rural area with six hectares of land next to the River Layon, we take seriously the question of ecology, so as to profit from our environment besides having a care for the natural world. We are also experimenting with new techniques in the vegetable garden and the orchard. We are happy to report that the quality of our produce has already improved. These initiatives link us with others of the same mind, both religious and laity.