1934 – Madiran
1952 – Tournay
The monastery is situated on a bend of the Arros river. To access the monastery, a visitor must cross over a bridge, effectively breaking from the world behind them. This reality points to what any abbey desires to be: a place of communion and a desert. Five times a day, the monks meet in the church to pray the Divine Office in addition to their time for personal prayer and Lectio Divina. They also convene in Chapter, to listen to the Abbot’s teaching and for fraternal exchanges. The brothers provide the services necessary for the life of the monastery (cooking, cleaning, fruit pulp etc …). The monastery also welcomes guests. Guests of the monastery are permitted to stay up to a week. They can request fraternal accompaniment, participate in the liturgy, and follow any sessions offered at the time.
In the early 1930s, solicited by the owners of the place, the monks of the abbey of En Calcat, agree to revive the monastic life in a former priory of the 11th century in Madiran in the Hautes-Pyrénées. The first monks arrived in 1934. They remained dependent on En Calcat until October 2, 1939, when Madiran received the status of independent Priory. A Novitiate opened in July 1941. Many novices began to arrive, and pretty soon, the cramped priory became too small. Also, Madiran, a country of vineyards, lacked water at the time. Not to mention, the village is located far from any means of communication. The construction of a new monastery was envisaged. After much research, a field bordering the river Arros, was found in Tournay, about thirty kilometers from Lourdes. On July 2, 1951, the first swing of the pickaxe was solemnly given by Bishop Théas, of Tarbes and Lourdes. A year later, the first building, the western section of the monastery, welcomed the monks for the celebration of the conventual Mass, on August 10, 1952. The guesthouse was completed in 1955, the abbey church dedicated October 2, 1958, and the East part was completed in 1964. Already since its construction, the community has sent brothers to found a small community in southern Brazil, in Curitiba; this foundation moved in 1977 to Goiás, 250 kilometers west of Brasilia. In 2009, it was necessary to close the community of brothers in Goias, Brazil. But, as if a wink from God, what has been given for more than 40 years is given back to us by the coming of Brazilian brothers who asked to live here. Moreover, a kind of partnership has been set up with the Thien Binh monastery in Vietnam. Vietnamese brothers come to discover another monastic experience. Thus, the community of Tournay takes an international face, with brothers of different origins: Malagasy, Vietnamese, Brazilian. This is an opportunity for us to live the catholicity of the Church.
Living the monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, one is centered around three main poles: personal and community prayer, a prayerful reading of the Bible called Lectio Divina, and work. Here in Tournay, in addition to the various community services and the service of the elderly and sick brothers in the infirmary, the main labor of the monks is a fruit pastry workshop that has been in operation since the early 1970s. First located inside the monastery, the confectionery workshop was moved in the 1980s, and rehabilitated in 2007. Since the beginning, the recipe has evolved little by little to arrive at the delicious recipe we have today. Since 1994, we have combined chocolate with fruit paste: the “Pavé de l’Abbaye” is a small cube of fruit paste coated with dark chocolate. We sell our products in different regional produce stores, our confectionery, and in other monasteries. For individuals, we provide a mail order, very active for the Christmas period, and we also have an online store on the internet. Another activity, inscribed in the Rule of Saint Benedict, is that of guest reception. Indeed, for Saint Benedict, the guest who knocks on the door, is understood to be none other than Christ himself, who is gladly welcomed. So those who wish to come, can spend one or more days at the monastery, taste the silence and the prayer, and benefit if they wish from the counseling and the accompaniment of a brother.