Bec Abbey

Bec Abbey

Bec Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec) in Le Bec-Hellouin, Normandy, France, is a Benedictine monastic foundation in the Eure département, in a valley midway between the cities of Rouen and Le Havre.

First foundation

It was founded in 1039 by Herluin, a Norman knight who in about 1031 left the court of Gilbert, Count of Brionne, to devote himself to a life of religion: the commune of Le Bec-Hellouin preserves his name.

With the arrival of Lanfranc of Pavia, Bec became a principal center of 11th century intellectual life. Lanfranc, who was already famous for his lectures at Avranches, came to teach as prior and master of the monastic school, but left in 1062, to become abbot of Caen (and later Archbishop of Canterbury). He was followed as abbot by Anselm, also later an Archbishop of Canterbury. The fifth abbot, Theobald of Bec, also went on to Canterbury. The future Pope Alexander II and many bishops came from the school at Bec.

The followers of William the Conqueror sponsored Bec, enriching the abbey with extensive manors and other holdings in England. Bec also owned and managed St Neots Priory as well as a number of other British foundations, including Goldcliff Priory in Monmouthshire founded in 1113 by Robert de Chandos. The village, now suburb, of Tooting Bec in London is named because the abbey owned the land.

The Abbey was damaged during the Wars of Religion and left a ruin in the French Revolution but, notably, the 15th century St. Nicholas Tower of the medieval monastery is still standing.

The founder, Herluin, later achieved sainthood. His life (Vita Herluini) was written by Abbot Gilbert Crispin. Archbishop Lanfranc also wrote a Chronicon Beccense of the life of Herluin, and of the first four abbots, which was published at Paris, 1648

Second foundation

In 1948 the site was re-settled as the Abbaye de Notre-Dame du Bec by Benedictine monks led by Dom Grammont, who effected some restorations. Bec-Helluin abbey is known for its links with Anglicanism and has been visited by successive archbishops of Canterbury. The abbey library contains the John Graham Bishop deposit of 5000 works concerning Anglicanism.

See also

External links

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