refounded in 1944
p. Étienne Ricaud
1 avenue de l’Abbaye
Abbot p. Étienne Ricaud
Community of Fleury
The Abbey of Fleury, in the diocese of Orléans, is situated in Saint-Benoît-sur- Loire at the heart of the region, Centre-Val de Loire. Located on the north bank of the river Loire in a fertile agricultural valley, causing many to call it le “Val d’Or” (Golden Valley), it is the cross-roads between the forest of Orléans, the region Sologne and the Beauce,(the granary of France).It is a UNESCO world-heritage site. The abbey church, which bears the name of basilica, is a place of worship, but is also an exceptional architectural monument from the Romanesque period. Numerous capitals decorate the porch-tower which date from the first half of the 11th century. Likewise, the transept and the choir were constructed during the second half under the same influence. At the north door, there is a tympanum from the end of the 12th century representing the teachings of Christ to His evangelists and apostles, with a lintel, portraying the transfer of the relics of Saint Benedict from Mont Cassin to the abbey. This iconographic representation is exceptional in the Region Centre-Val de Loire and constitutes a major work of Romanesque art. The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to Saint Benedict who is the patriarch of the monks in the western world and the co-patron of Europe,and whose relics lie in the 11th century crypt.
The monastery is founded towards 630 by monks who arrive from Orléans. Around the year 672, they go off to seek the relics of Saint Benoît in the ruins of Mont-Cassin, in Italy. When they return with the relics, the abbey becomes an important destination of pilgrimages for western Christianity. The abbey then reaches its peak under the auspicies of saint Abbon(988-1004) and Gauzlin(1004-1030). At that point, it becomes a literary centre of some reference for the western world. In 1026 a fire destroys the monastic buildings which are immediately rebuilt. At the same time, they undertake the construction of the porch-tower. In1067, the construction of the basilica commences and the choir is consecrated in 1108 and is terminated in 1218. In the 16th century the monastery is pillaged by the protestants and the records and literary works from the library are scattered all over Europe. In 1627, the congregation from Saint Maur takes over the abbey and a new monastery is constructed in the 18th century. After the Revolution the monastic buildings are destroyed and the monastery becomes a stone quarry. In 1865 the monks from the Pierre-qui-Vire bring the monastery back to life, but the Congregations Law forces the community to go into exile. Regular monastic life is re-instigated in 1944 and the monastery is rebuilt. 34 brothers participate in a monastic life, under the direction of the Father Abbot Etienne Ricaud.
According to the ordinary charismatic approach to Benedictine life, the monastic community’s activities are shared between time for prayer, work and a fraternal life. The younger brothers follow their studies with the inter-monastic theological organization Studium(STIM), and the majority of the community profits from permanent training by different sessions organized throughout the year. Up until the 1980s, the fabrication of stained-glass windows was the principal support for our income, with many work-sites in churches and also in municipal buildings, in France and abroad. When we closed this activity, we opened a workshop of painting on porcelain. We also fabricate confectionary in a traditional way, producing sweets(candy)in various flavours and forms, notably the famous “moinillons”(or sweets in the shape of little monks), a registered trade-mark since 1952. A quarterly review comes out, called “Renaissance de Fleury” which is distributed to many subscribers and which carries forward a spiritual and cultural message in the spirit of monastic life and its outreach. In our boutique beside the monastery we have many articles on sale from our own and other monasteries; we also have a shop on- line on the internet. We provide accommodation for those who wish to make a retreat in three different parts of the monastery, either groups or individuals, so that they may share liturgical prayer .