The Refectory of Saint-Wandrille
1,000 years of history
Many pilgrims come to venerate the relics of the holy bishop Vulfran. Generous benefactors, moved by love and devotion, offer abundant alms, or even their possessions, to the monastery.
Emma, dame de Pontchardon, built this refectory with her own money. Richard II, two properties on the river Touques, Le Breuil (Calvados) and Ticheville (Orne), where the abbey established a large priory, as well as other property.
This donation was drawn up before August 23, 1026, the date of Richard II’s death; it was signed not only by Richard II, but also by his successor Duke Richard III, Abbot John of Fécamp, Abbot Odilon of Cluny, Hugues, Bishop of Bayeux, Robert, Archbishop of Rouen, and King Henry I of France.
Emma de Pontchardon also donated a splendid silver and gold shrine to the Fontenelle church. On May 31, 1027, the abbot Saint Gérard translated the relics of Saint Vulfran into the new shrine, which was then solemnly transferred to the abbey church. A large crowd attended the ceremony, then a long-remembered meal was served in the brand-new refectory, and the day came to a close with festivities.
Ainsi Emma, dame de Pontchardon fit-elle de ses deniers bâtir ce réfectoire. Décidant d’entrer en religion en se retirant à l’ombre du monastère de Fontenelle, elle fait don avec l’assentiment de son suzerain le duc Richard II, de deux propriétés situées sur la Touques, le Breuil (Calvados) et Ticheville (Orne), où l’abbaye installa un important prieuré, ainsi que d’autres biens.
Cette donation est établie avant le 23 août 1026, date de la mort de Richard II ; elle est soussignée par ce dernier, mais également par son successeur le duc Richard III, l’abbé Jean de Fécamp, l’abbé Odilon de Cluny, Hugues, évêque de Bayeux, Robert, archevêque de Rouen et le roi de France Henri premier.
Emma de Pontchardon offre également à l’église de Fontenelle une splendide châsse d’argent et d’or. Le 31 mai 1027, l’abbé saint Gérard opère la translation des reliques de saint Vulfran dans la nouvelle châsse, transférée ensuite solennellement dans l’église abbatiale. Une grande foule assiste à la cérémonie, puis l’on sert dans le réfectoire tout neuf un repas dont l’on se souvint longtemps, et la fin de la journée s’achève en réjouissances.
Henry II Plantagenet, who came to Saint-Wandrille at the end of the 12th century, was familiar with the current low decoration, which had just been completed: a Romanesque arcature with criss-crossed edges falling on columns with flat-leaf capitals, heralding the arrival of Ogival art.
During the reign of Guillaume de La Douillie (1304-1342), a large bay was opened in the west gable, in the style of the bays in the transept of the abbey church.
In 1450, Abbot Jean de Brametot (1444-1453) brought back to Saint-Wandrille the monks who had been exiled to Rouen in their rue Ganterie mansion for twenty years, and had the north wall of the refectory completely remodeled, removing the Romanesque arcature and piercing the wall with eight large third-point windows.
While three of the cloister galleries were being rebuilt between 1495 and 1515, and the double doors to the cloister and the washbasin were being created in the style of the early Norman Renaissance, a vault in the shape of an inverted carina was also installed.
Coming from Jumièges, King François I stayed at Saint-Wandrille on August 8, 1545, and saw the refectory in a state close to the present one, except for the high windows, which were later modified. Probably at the end of the 16th century, as the number of monks decreased with regularity, the refectory was divided, with the creation of a small winter refectory and an office to the east and west.
From 1634 to 1790, the monks of the Benedictine congregation of Saint-Maur restored monastic life, both spiritually and materially. In the large refectory, the bay in the west gable was blinded by the construction of the adjoining building, and thus walled up. The pantry next to the kitchen has been preserved. The Romanesque arch is embedded in plaster and hidden by wood panelling. The green glazed terracotta paving was replaced by stone paving. At the end of the 18th c., two arched passageways were created in the corners to improve communication between the buildings.
After the suppression of the religious orders, the monks left the abbey in October 1790. In 1791, the estate was sold to a merchant from Yvetot, who set up a pin factory, a tobacco factory, a spinning mill and a weaving mill, as did his descendants.
Throughout the 19th century, the abbey was visited by tourists, some of them illustrious. On July 27, 1824, it was the Duchess de Berry, daughter-in-law of King Charles X; the 16th-century washbasin attracted her interest, and the princess unsuccessfully offered to buy it.
On August 12, 1835, Victor Hugo visited the monastery, despite an altercation with the owner at the time. He was already familiar with the monastery from the engravings in Taylor and Nodier’s Voyages pittoresques et romantiques de l’ancienne France (1820), and Langlois’s Essai historique et descriptif sur l’abbaye de Fontenelle (1827).
An engraving from the latter work struck him, and he described it in 1831 in Notre-Dame de Paris: the washbasin and its “donkey-eared Bacchic monk, glass in hand, laughing in the face of an entire community”. Victor Hugo visited the monastery again on September 12, 1879.
The abbey was then owned by the Marquis de Stacpoole, later Monseigneur de Stacpoole, who, during his thirty years at Saint-Wandrille, transformed the monastery into a summer house in the style of an English chateau. The south windows of the refectory were walled up, the north bays were transformed, openings were made, the Romanesque archway was stripped of its plaster and a gallery was added to connect the east and west buildings. The large refectory became a grand hall, with oak parquet flooring, monumental staircase, billiard table and false fireplace. A dining room was added in the western section.
After their return to Saint-Wandrille on February 13, 1894, the monks made regular use of this small dining room, more suited to the still-small community, until Dom Pothier’s abbatial blessing on September 29, 1898, when they resumed use of the large refectory.
A restoration project was drawn up by the architect Sainsaulieu in 1899, but the community had to leave in exile on September 25, 1901.
From 1907 to 1914, the abbey was home to the writer Maurice Maeterlinck and his muse, the actress Georgette Leblanc, sister of the author of Arsène Lupin. It was in this refectory that Macbeth was performed in 1909, and Pélléas et Mélisande in 1910, before a select audience.
The Latham family lived at the abbey for several years afterwards, and the refectory, now a playroom, was the perfect roller-skating rink for the children of the house.
The year 1930, before the community returned to its Normandy monastery, saw a complete restoration of the abbey, with the removal from the refectory of the additions dating from the time of Bishop de Stacpoole. The woodwork, galleries and staircase were removed, but the parquet flooring remained.
During the German occupation, troops used the refectory, in particular as a theater.
The bombardment of August 10, 1944 damaged the western section and the adjacent building.
It wasn’t until December 1992 that an ambitious project to completely restore the refectory was launched, under the direction of Dominique Moufle, chief architect of historic monuments, with financial support – the refectory has been listed as a historic monument since 1863 – from the State, the Conseil Général, and numerous generous patrons and benefactors.
The project was completed at the end of 1997, and the community was able to resume use of the building on January 26, 1998.
OUR BLESSED FATHER SAINT WANDRILLE
founder and 1st abbot, +668
celebrated on 22 July
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monk and deacon, 7th century
celebrated on 18 September
Our father Saint Wandrille sent him to Sainte-Eulalie in Bordeaux to meet Saint Hildemarque, the future abbess of Fécamp, and asked him to bring back relics of Saint Saturnin, bishop of Toulouse, and Saint Amans, bishop of Rodez. The remains of deacon Sindard are still believed to be in Gauville, hidden under the ruins and vegetation.
monk, + before 668
celebrated on July 8
Disciple of Saint Wandrille Our Blessed Father indeed counted him among the saints; as he prayed, shortly before his last breath, he saw Agathon included in the choir of the blessed whom the Lord sent to meet him. With joy on his face, he invoked the name of this righteous man, whose praiseworthy life he had come to appreciate; hence the veneration paid to Agathon in our monastery, as attested by several ancient documents.
monk, bishop of Toulouse, + 671
celebrated on 14 May
Born of noble parents in Filliancourt, near Le Pecq, he was chosen by the Lord and by order of Clotaire III to occupy the episcopal see of Toulouse. After the reshuffling of territories that took place when Dagobert II was removed in 661, the man who represented Neustria on the banks of the Garonne had to return to the banks of the Seine.
Érembert lived, perhaps for several years, with his brother Gamard and his nephews Nammachus and Zachée in the monastic community of Filliancourt, before spending his final years in the abbey of Fontenelle under the government of Saint Lantbert. His body was laid to rest first in St. Paul’s Basilica, then in St. Peter’s Church, where many came to ask God for his intercession.
son of Saint Waninge, founder of Fécamp, 7th century
celebrated on 18 December
chaplain of Saint Bathilde, bishop of Lyon, + c. 680
celebrated on 3 November
Genès was a member of the clergy at the palace of Clovis II, where he was given the title of abbot. The king had attached him in particular to Queen Saint Bathilde, whom he helped in her devotions and good works, looking after poor priests and monasteries.
monk, abbot of Belcinac, + 680
celebrated on 21 October
Born in Britain, he crossed the sea to lead a more austere life and settled in a solitude near Saint-Valéry; then attracted by the reputation of Abbé Lantbert, he lived for years at the Fontenelle monastery.
But not understanding religious life without preaching and example, he withdrew to an island in the Seine called Belcinac, to the west of Caudebec; there he built two churches, one to the Virgin, the other to the apostles Peter and Paul, receiving the many faithful who crossed the river to see and hear our hermit.
Concède was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles, but the “barre”, since called “mascaret” (tidal bore), invited the brothers to transport the Blessed’s body to Fontenelle. In 1027, his remains were joined to those of Saint Erembert.
2nd abbot, bishop of Lyon, + 688
celebrated on 14 April
When he entered Fontenelle, he and his father gave the abbey considerable property in the Ternois region, which formed the basis of Saint-Wandrille’s fortunes in this region. As for the Donzère estate, located opposite the episcopal city of Viviers on the banks of the Rhône, this was a new favor from Thierry III, which the king may have granted to Lantbert to provide for the monastery’s oil needs.
Finally, the travels required by this foundation probably brought the Abbé de Fontenelle into contact with the Lyon region, and led to him being called to the see of Saint Pothin.
In the words of one of his historians, he was a first-class administrator, who, in all the circumstances in which he had to appear, always succeeded admirably through his qualities of thoughtful audacity and method. In Fontenelle, he remained the personification of discipline, in all its formative and fruitful aspects.
The Hieronymian martyrology attests that he was venerated shortly after his death.
founder with Saint Wandrille, then abbot of Oye, + 690
celebrated on 26 May
Gond is considered a nephew of our father Saint Wandrille, in the very words of the Vita sancti Wandregisili. In fact, Saint Gond’s mother, whose name has not come down to us, was a sister of Waugise, Wandrille’s father; but beyond the misuse of the term “nephew” by the Saxons, the two cousins, with the approval of Ouen, bishop of Rouen, were able to build the Fontenelle monastery in the forest of Roumare, in the year of our Lord 649.
Wandrille sent him to Rome with the mission of bringing back relics of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the holy martyrs Lorenzo and Pancrace, as well as books of Sacred Scripture and Pope Gregory.
Around 662, after dedicating himself at Fontenelle, Gond retired forever to the solitude of Oye, in Champagne. He died on May 26, around the year 690. His body was solemnly recognized in 1621; in 1936, the bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne donated two relics of the saint to us.
Saint Gond is still honored today in eastern France, in Verdun and Châlons-en-Champagne, in Langres and Besançon; over the centuries, he was especially honored in Saint-Wandrille, until the French Revolution. Given this cult and the essential role played by Saint Gond in the early days of our monastery, the Fontenelle monks are once again celebrating the merits of our Blessed.
3rd abbot, bishop of Rouen, + 695 celebrated on February 9
Designated by our father Saint Wandrille as one of his immediate successors, he also assumed, full of merit, the office of bishop of the city of Rouen after the death of Saint Ouen, in 684.
A victim of jealousy, Ansbert sought hospitality with the monks of Hautmont, in the diocese of Cambrai. He died in exile in the year of our Lord 695, but his remains were brought back to Fontenelle. Hildebert, the monastery’s new abbot, went to meet them with the crowd of faithful from the diocese and the abbey’s monks; having received the precious burden, he devoutly carried out the entire funeral ceremony.
The remains of Saint Ansbert were placed in the church of Saint-Paul, then nine years later, in 704, in the church of Saint-Pierre. Later, for fear of the Normans, St. Ansbert’s relics were transported to Ponthieu and finally to Ghent’s Mont-Blandin, before they were destroyed by Calvinists in 1578.
Perhaps at the beginning of the 9th century, the monk Aigrade began to collect the main features of Saint Ansbert’s life, given the great influence and veneration this latter enjoyed.
The cult of Saint Ansbert was constant in our monastery throughout the Middle Ages. Today, we like to remember St. Ansbert’s zeal for maintaining the monastery’s vineyard on the Saint-Saturnin hill.
monk and bishop of Sens, + c. 697
celebrated on June 1st
Vulfran was a monk at our monastery and archbishop of Sens. From his long stay in this world, and doubtless also from a special impulse from the Lord, he had retained a taste for the apostolate; imitating the Celtic religious, he was at the forefront of preaching the Gospel among the Frisians. After preaching the good news for five years, Saint Vulfran returned to Fontenelle to live in seclusion and prepare for death.
Since the 11th century, the venerated remains of the Blessed Vulfran have been the object of assiduous worship, distinguished by innumerable miracles which, until the Wars of Religion, it seems, brought streams of devout pilgrims every five or six years to the feasts known as Le grand Pardon de saint Vulfran.
4th abbot, + 701
celebrated on February 18
It was Hildebert who, shortly after 684, welcomed the future Saint Vulfran and encouraged him in his plans to evangelize the Frisians, granting the missionary the resources and auxiliaries he desired. Some ten years later, he received Wandon, a native of Vimeu, and shortly afterwards Bénigne, two future abbots of the monastery.
Abbot Hildebert was honored by the cult of the saints, and did not have to suffer from the controversy that arose among the Maurists on this subject; at that time, moreover, his relics were kept in plain sight in a shrine close to the altar.
SAINT HERBLAND, OR HERMELAND
monk, abbot of Indre, + c. 720
celebrated on March 16
Born in Noyon to a distinguished family, he was cupbearer to King Clotaire III, and left the court to devote himself to God. He entered Fontenelle around 668 and was ordained priest by Saint Ouen shortly after his profession. He was sent with twelve religious to the bishop of Nantes, who established them on the island of Indre, two leagues from the city.
After a long period of governing and building up his community, Hermeland left his position and spent the rest of his life in a small oratory he had built in honor of Saint Leger.
He was buried in Saint-Paul church, near the oratory of Saint-Wandrille, and raised from the ground fifteen years later. Most of his relics were transported to Loches in the 9th century; half a tibia was donated to us in 1936. Several churches in Brittany are under its protection; Rouen once had one near the cathedral.
bishop of Thérouanne, 5th abbot, + 710
celebrated on June 20
He was a monk at this monastery, then bishop of Thérouanne, around 698. After a twelve-year episcopate, Bain left his diocese to return to Fontenelle Abbey, where he became the fifth abbot. The author of the Gesta lists the numerous donations that King Childebert granted him, including the monastery of Fleury in the Vexin, the church of Poses in the diocese of Évreux and the fisheries of Pecq, near Poissy.
On March 31, 704, Bain transferred the bodies of Saints Wandrille, Ansbert and Vulfran from St. Paul’s Basilica to St. Peter’s Church.
Saint Bain died six years later. His name is inscribed in the Hieronymian martyrology.
vidame of the church of Rouen, abbot of Fly, + after 719
celebrated on April 6
He was first vidame of the Church of Rouen, attended the council held in 689 by Saint Ansbert, then bishop of that city, and followed him into exile in Hainaut. Having become Abbot of Flay, he soon handed over his abbey to his relative Saint Bénigne, and died at Fontenelle, where he wished to be buried alongside Saint Ansbert.
monk, + c. 720
celebrated on June 5
Originally from Great Britain, he lived at Fontenelle, where for many years he led a life of irreproachable regularity, according to his abbot Saint Bénigne. Indeed, the Gesta abbatum Fontanellensium reports that the holy abbot Bénigne sighed at length as Christ’s servant left this earth; inspired by the Spirit of God, he spoke these words aloud: “O Bagga, valiant standard-bearer of Christ’s militia, you now happily receive the wages of your labors; pray to the Lord Jesus, too, that we may merit to enjoy eternal companionship with you in the company of the elect”.
6th abbot, + 724
celebrated on March 22
He was a monk, then Abbot of Fontenelle, who prayed that he would be granted the company of the righteous in eternity. Driven out of his abbey for taking sides in the fight between Charles Martel and Rainfroy, he took refuge in Flay. A few years later, he was called back to Fontenelle. Under his rule, the abbey received a large number of possessions, but above all, it counted religious distinguished by their holiness, including Rothmond, father of Saint Milon, Milon himself and the priest Bagga.
bishop of Rouen, Paris, and Bayeux, 8th abbot, + 732
celebrated on April 9
Son of Drogon and cousin of Pepin the Short, he was raised by his grandmother, Saint Ansflède, who instilled in him a contempt for the world. Appointed bishop of Rouen in 723, he was also entrusted with administering the dioceses of Bayeux and Paris, and the abbeys of Fontenelle and Jumièges, not out of ambition or interest, but in accordance with the custom of the princes of the time, despite the canons of the Church.
In addition to the goods Hugues gave to the Fontenelle abbey, he bequeathed a gold chalice with a large paten, a gold turret and a jeweled shrine containing the relics of several saints.
His body was deposited at Jumièges in the church of Notre-Dame, then transferred in the 9th century to the priory of Haspres in the Cambraisis region. Since 1897, Saint-Wandrille has been in possession of the Blessed’s humerus, which came from Jumièges.
9th abbot, archbishop of Reims 735
celebrated on January 16
He served as bishop in the diocese of Reims, before obtaining the Fontenelle abbey. At the court of Charles Martel, he received a second benefice, that of Saint-Saëns in the Varenne valley. In addition, the prince confirmed the monastery’s assets, and the all-powerful Mayor of the Palace specified that he was taking the abbey under his special protection, from all civil and religious authorities. Abbé Landon governed Fontenelle for three years and then joined his fathers. His name is inscribed in the Hieronymian martyrology.
celebrated on September 24
Monk and prior of this place “loving and favoring the monastic rule and austere observance”, says the chronicler. Even under the sad abbot Teutsinde, it was possible for him to build a church, probably for the faithful living around the abbey. It was built at the south-western corner of the buildings, at the highest point of the complex, and perhaps for this reason, dedicated to Saint Michael. Rebuilt in the 11th century, it has been the parish church ever since. Having completed his career, Ermier was buried in Saint-Pierre church, in front of the cloister door.
monk and hermit 730
celebrated on August 18
With the permission of his abbot Saint Bénigne, Milon retired with his father Rothmond, to lead an anchorite life, while his mother Gisla entered the monastery of Logium near the Seine. Our saint’s hermitage, still known today as “Grotte à Milon”, was located near the mouths of the Rançon and Fontenelle rivers; carved out of solid rock, it could hold around twenty people. There, Milon watched over the stormy abyss that lay at his feet, battling the evil spirits of the air that capsized the frail skiffs navigating the river; at the foot of the rock, he celebrated mass in the small chapel where he also received pilgrims. Finally, wanting to live by the work of his hands, he planted and cultivated vines on the hillside. After a long practice of good works, he gave up his soul to the Lord.
13rd abbot, + 753
celebrated on September 16
In charge of temporal affairs during St. Wandon’s lifetime, he had obtained a diploma from Pepin granting the abbey regalian rights over its tenants, and it was under his abbatiate that possessions in the Cotentin region increased. In 753, the king’s favor obliged him to prepare for the arrival of Pope Stephen II in the Frankish states. Austrulf arrived in Agaune on his return from Rome, where he prematurely ended his diplomatic mission.
7th abbot, + 754
celebrated on April 17
A native of the Vimeu region, he brought important estates with him when he became a monk. The fortunes of politics placed him at the head of the abbey, at the same time as Rainfroy showered him with favors; but the same fortunes, say Charles Martel, sent him into exile, eastwards, to the monastery of Saint-Servais in Maëstricht; he was to remain there for twenty-eight years, supporting himself through prayer and study. After this, Pepin the Short authorized Wandon’s return to the Caux region, where, despite his advanced age, the Abbot of Fontenelle was able to trace a path of intellectual development that ensured his lasting esteem and recognition. Seven years after his return, he was deprived of his sight, so without slackening in his good works, he recommended himself to Christ by fasting, watching and praying. His body was buried in Saint-Pierre church, along with the blessed confessors Wandrille, Ansbert and Vulfran.
monk, bishop of Sées, + 750
celebrated on February 3rd
monk, bishop of Evreux, 15th abbot, + 807 celebrated on June 14
Born of noble parents, he entered the palace and, after taking Holy Orders, became chaplain to Queen Bertrade. Charlemagne called him to the bishopric of Évreux, and even entrusted him with several missions in England. In 787, our Blessed was Abbot of Fontenelle. “He found a great deal of ignorance,” explains Dom Abraham Féray, “and in order to chase it away like the plague from the monasteries, he instituted a school to teach the monks letters and singing. He also built a new infirmary, sacristy and kitchen, and covered the churches of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Paul and Saint-Michel in lead. Finally, he obtained from the Emperor a privilege to recover the monastery’s property that had been alienated.
monk and hermit, + 812
celebrated on April 20
Monk from this monastery, to whom ancient documents give the title of deacon or priest of Saint-Saturnin. The contemplative life he enjoyed led him to live in solitude in the hermitage that our father Saint Wandrille had dedicated to the holy martyr, on the hillside to the north of the abbey. Ignoring idleness, he taught many of his disciples the rules of arithmetic and computation. What’s more, he taught them the art of writing, in which he had become a master, using caroline mixed with Anglo-Saxon notes, as evidenced by manuscripts now preserved in Rouen, Berlin and Coblence, bearing witness to what he bequeathed to his monastery.
16th abbot, IXth century
celebrated on March 16
Abbot of this monastery, he obtained from Louis the Pious, in the second year of his reign, a decree confirming the privileges granted to the abbey by his predecessors. With his kind permission, Abbé Trasaire was able to return to his homeland, and Duke Sigon of Benevento, whom he had baptized, received him with honor. After which, back at Fontenelle, he resigned his abbot’s office and spent the rest of his life in sanctity. At the time of the Congregation of Saint-Maur, his relics were still displayed for the veneration of the faithful in a shrine placed on the main altar.
19th abbot, + 833
celebrated on July 20
Born around 770, Anségise was of Frankish origin; he retired to Fontenelle near his relative Gervold, then abbot, who conferred the clerkship on him. Charged by Charlemagne with administering the two monasteries of Saint-Sixte near Reims and Saint-Menge near Châlons, he then became abbot of Saint-Germer in the diocese of Beauvais; in 817 he was appointed abbot of Luxeuil, and of our monastery in 823. Together with his fellow members of the old colombian monastery, he revived the monastic spirit, expanded the library, restored several buildings and built new ones, including the Chapter House to the north of St. Peter’s church, the oldest chapter house mentioned in the texts, according to scholars. The ninth-century Gesta describes its use as follows: “It is here that the brothers are accustomed to assemble when they have to deliberate on some matter; it is here that, every day, the divine law is read from a lectern, and what is commanded by the authority of the Rule is indicated”. In addition, Anségise ensured the regular upkeep of the monasteries, carefully settling the royalties owed by each farm. Last but not least, he is the author of the oldest collection of Capitularies of Charlemagne and Louis le Débonnaire.
22nd abbot, + 850
celebrated on September 11
Succeeding Blessed Foulques, he governed the abbey for over four years, and was able to stand up to the Vikings who were ravaging the country at the time. In due course, he sent help to King Charles the Bald, who was besieging the rebellious Toulouse.
18th abbot, + 840
celebrated on May 18
Raised at Charlemagne’s court, he later became the emperor’s secretary. Louis le Débonnaire showered him with favors, and it was thus that, according to the religious legislation of the time, he obtained several ecclesiastical benefices, the abbeys of Fontenelle, Saint-Servais de Maëstricht, Saint-Pierre du Mont-Blandin, Saint-Bavon de Gand and Saint-Maur des Fossés. Finally, he bid farewell to the world and founded the monastery of Seligenstadt on the Main, in honor of the holy martyrs Marcellin and Peter. During his five-year abbatiate at Fontenelle, he and Benoît de Saint-Maur-des-Fossés worked hard to encourage a reform of monastic life. Called to other dignities, he placed his crosier in the hands of Saint Anségise.
21st abbot 845
celebrated on October 10
We read that in his time, the Danes, or Normans, swept through Neustria like a plague. On May 24, 841, the abbey’s local superiors, acting in place of the abbot detained at court, contacted the Viking Oscar commanding the flotilla to negotiate a ransom. Tired of looting, they settled for six pounds of gold for the monastery itself, according to the chronicle. Three years later, Blessed Foulques received his eternal reward; he had governed Fontenelle for eleven years, six months and twenty-six days.
SAINT GÉRARD the Ist
30th abbot, + murdered in 1029
celebrated on November 29
In 1029, on the night of Saturday to the first Sunday of Advent, the martyrdom of the holy abbot Gérard, murdered by a criminal hand, while the man of God was taking his rest “after the work of the hands, fasting and prayers of custom”. A model of observance, gifted with heavenly favors, Saint Gérard, at the request of Duke Richard, had to give up the government of the priory of Crépy-en-Valois, take over that of Fontenelle and raise this monastery from its ruins. He rebuilt St. Peter’s church, and it was during this work that the remains of St. Vulfran were discovered and placed in a silver cistern. He himself was buried with honor at the entrance to the Chapter he had built. In 1671, a lead blade bearing the inscription: “Hic requiescit Abbas Gerardus… ab injusto injuste interfectus” was found in his grave.
31rd abbot, + 1048
celebrated on March 6
Abbot of this monastery for 19 years. While still dean, he was entrusted with building the abbey of Mont-Sainte-Catherine, near Rouen. In 1031, he had the new church of the Saint-Wandrille monastery, rebuilt by his predecessor Saint Gérard, consecrated. At his request, Duke William restored the island of Belcinac and donated four churches to England. The holy abbot was also advisor to Onfroy de Vieilles, lord of the castellany of Pont-Audemer, with a view to founding a monastery on the Préaux lands; in fact, he sent him monks, first Eymard and then Ansfred, who was to become the first abbot.
Despite the devotion of the faithful to the remains of Saint Gradulphe, his body was burned by the Calvinists; nevertheless, the people continued to pray before his tomb.
33rd abbot, + 1089
celebrated on September 4
Originally from Mainz, a monk in Florence, then in Fécamp with Saint Maurille, and renowned for his holiness, Gerbert was called to Fontenelle by William the Conqueror, in order to give spiritual renewal to monastic discipline. Religion and charity shone in Gerbert; his experience was great in all things and his zeal for Opus Dei (religious services) unfailing. Attached to Saint Anselme, with whom he may have stayed at Le Bec, he trained several renowned abbots at his school: Godefroy, the first abbot of Fontenay; Saint Gontard, the illustrious abbot of Jumièges; Ingulphe, whom William put in charge of Croyland; the venerable Gauthier, abbot of the Sainte-Trinité du Mont-Sainte-Catherine near Rouen; and another Godefroy, who was abbot of Saint-Pierre de Préaux. Saint Gerbert was buried in the Chapter. His remains rested there until 1672, when the said Chapter was destroyed.
abbot of Jumièges, + 1095
celebrated on November 26
As chaplain to William the Conqueror, he entered our monastery, bringing with him the English possessions bestowed on him by the duke-king, the churches of Whitchurch canonicorum, Burton Bradstock, Sherston and Towcester. He became prior of Saint-Wandrille, but soon afterwards was elected abbot of Jumièges, carefully dispensing spiritual nourishment to the sheeps entrusted to his care. He attended William the Conqueror on his deathbed, concerned with both the prince’s spiritual and bodily salvation. After 17 years as governor of Jumièges, Gontard was ordered by the archbishop of Rouen to attend the Council of Clermont convened by Pope Urban II. Stricken with fever, he received the last rites from Gilbert, bishop of Évreux, and breathed his last in peace. It wasn’t long before he was considered a saint, and his liturgical cult continued in our monastery well into the 18th century.
32nd abbot, + 1150
celebrated on August 13
English by birth, he illustrated our monastery with the brilliance of his virtues. He was indeed a man of enlightened counsel, attentive to the maintenance of discipline; it was to him that Popes Innocent II and Eugene III granted the diplomas confirming and safeguarding the abbey’s possessions.
BLESSED LOUIS FRANÇOIS LEBRUN
martyred on the pontoons of Rochefort, +1794
celebrated on August 20
Born in Rouen in the parish of Saint-Herbland, he made his monastic profession at the age of nineteen on June 10, 1763, in the congregation of Saint-Maur, and was ordained priest in 1771 in the chapel of the archiepiscopal palace of Rouen by Cardinal de La Rochefoucauld. After holding a number of posts in monasteries in the province of Normandy, Dom Le Brun arrived at Saint-Wandrille in December 1788, when the then prior chose him as senieur (dean). After the Revolutionary law of February 1790 abolishing religious orders, Dom Le Brun, wishing to continue leading a monastic life, withdrew to Jumièges and then to Le Bec, which outlasted Saint-Wandrille, and then moved to Rouen. Three years later, having refused to take the “Liberty-Equality” oath, and to avoid his family suffering for having taken him in, he surrendered, was arrested and sent to the Saint-Vivien prison. On March 21, 1794, it was the departure to the pontoons of Rochefort. After four months on board the “Deux-associés”, a ship dedicated to transporting slaves, Dom Louis-François Le Brun went ashore; always practicing the virtues of piety, gentleness and modesty, he died a confessor of the faith, a priest to the end, faithful to the observance of ecclesiastical laws and attached to the holy hierarchy of the Church. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II along with many of his companions on October 1, 1995.