Saint-Laurent-les-Bains: Abbey of Our Lady of the Snows

The Abbey of Our Lady of the Snows is located near Lozère in the diocese of Viviers. It is surrounded by large forests and valleys, forming an ideal setting for silence and contemplation.


August 28, 1850: The founding monks of Aiguebelle took possession of a place called "La Felgère," given by two priests, the Chalbos brothers, to Dom Orsise, then abbot of Aiguebelle.

May 10, 1855: Dom Emmanuel Bernex was elected second prior. He then began the construction of the "new monastery."

July 16, 1861: The community leaves "La Felgère" to move into the new monastery.

June 16, 1874: Dom Polycarpe Marthoud is elected first abbot of Our Lady of the Snows.

September 26, 1878: Visit of Robert Louis Stevenson with Modestine. At the beginning of November of 1880 the community escaped the anticlerical expulsions thanks to a providential snowfall.

June 24, 1882: Resignation of Dom Polycarpe, who left for Syria in April with about 15 monks, to the "refuge" foundation of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Akbes.

January 16, 1890: Entrance of Viscount Charles de Foucauld in the community, who became Brother Marie Albéric on the 26th of the same month when he took the habit. On June 26, 1890, he joined the monastery of La Trappe d'Akbes and Dom Polycarpe. Brother Marie Alberic made his profession on February 2, 1892, then left for Syria on September 10, 1896.

1892: Attempt to found a priory, "Our Lady of Good Rest," at Saint Julien de Cassagnas in the Gard department. Father Eugene is the prior.

1901 - 1903: Some religious (and the library!) settled in the refuge of Cordemois in Belgium, under new threats of expulsion.

June 9, 1901: Priestly ordination of Charles de Foucauld at Viviers (at the same time as the future Dom Augustine). The next day he celebrated his first Mass at the abbey.

Night of January 26, 1912: a fire reduced to ashes a large part of the monastery. Disheartened, Dom Martin returned to Aiguebelle. Augustine, his cellarer, was then named prior.

July 2, 1912: Laying of the first stone of the third monastery, designed by Canon Léon Laurens, diocesan architect of Mende.

October 2, 1912: Dom Augustin MARTIN was elected as fourth abbot. He rebuilt the monastery. When the war broke out in 1914, it was mostly completed except for the west side.

1914-1918: The monastery was turned into a military hospital.

December 1, 1916: Assassination of Father de Foucauld in Tamanrasset.

July 2, 1918: The community moved into part of the rebuilt monastery.

August 4, 1921: Solemn dedication of the new church by Bishop Cuzin, bishop of Mende.

March 2, 1932: Death of Father Abbot Dom Augustin. He had started the operation of making mass wine, a long-time means of support for the community.

April 21, 1932: Election of Dom Jean Marie Balmes as fifth abbot.

During WWII, seventeen monks were mobilized. Only four returned from prison camps in 1945, including the future Dom Claudius Valor.

Robert Schuman found refuge at the abbey at the end of the war.

August 13, 1950: 100th anniversary of the founding of the abbey, presided by Bishop Couderc, bishop of Viviers.

February 13, 1972: Acceptance of two new foundations, the abbeys of St Mary of the Desert and of Our Lady of the Dombes. In April, the property of Saint Julien de Cassagnas was sold, since the wine production site was now at Bellegarde, near the Camargue region.

1978: Legal recognition of the Community.

Year 2000: For the Great Jubilee of Redemption, the church was completely renovated on the inside and the outside, including the cloisters, scriptorium and refectory.

April 24, 2001: Appointment of an apostolic administrator in the person of Dom Jean Marie Couvreur, abbot of Saint Mary of the Desert.

September 2002: Closing of the Notre-Dame des Dombes Abbey, a daughter foundation of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. This former abbey is now the house of the “Chemin Neuf Community. "

July 7, 2003: Election of Dom Hugues de Seréville, monk of La Trappe de Soligny as ninth regular abbot. He was chosen as superior in August 2002.

November 13, 2005: Beatification of Fr. Charles de Foucauld in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

May 1, 2006: Installation of the Little Sisters of Nazareth and Unity at the same place where Blessed Charles de Foucauld lived.

July 2006: End of the wine production business.

December 1, 2006: On the 90th anniversary of the death of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the altar of the oratory dedicated to him is consecrated. On the 3rd, Bishop François Blondel, Bishop of Viviers, blessed this oratory.

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