St Cosme Priory in St-Cosme-en-l’Isle

St Cosme Priory is located on the western outskirts of Tours, near La Riche district.

St Cosme Priory near Tours - Vestiges of the church
Vestiges of the church

When the priory was founded in 1092 on a small island, hence its official name St-Cosme-en-l’Isle. 

The island was attached to the mainland after the construction of the Grande Levée d’Anjou.

Henry II Plantagenêt, King of England and Count of Anjou, commissioned the  construction of the dyke during the 12th century.

Sadly, St Cosme Priory fell into disrepair at the French Revolution and the remaining buildings were further damaged during WWII.

Pierre de Ronsard, commendatory prior of St Cosme

Pierre de Ronsard was commendatory prior of St Cosme, in other words, a lay outsider. 

Appointed by the king, he received the revenues generated by the priory.

St Cosme Priory near Tours - Vestiges of the church
Vestiges of the church

Along with six other poets, he co-founded the PléiadeThis literary group revived French poetry during the French Renaissance.

The other two influential members of the Pléiade were Joachim du BellayandJean-Antoine de Baïf. 

They adopted the name Pléiade as a reference to the seven stars of the Pleiades star cluster.

The name refers also to a 3rd century BC literary group composed of seven Alexandrian poets and tragedians known as the Alexandrian Pleiad.

The number and quality of Ronsard’s poems, but also his charisma made him the undisputed leader of the Pleiade.

St Cosme Priory, the resting place of Ronsard

Pierre de Ronsard was born at the Manoir de la Possonnière, in the little village of Couture-sur-Loir in the Loire Valley.

The young aristocrat was educated at home until the age of nine. 

He was then sent to study in Paris, where he later became attached to the service of King Charles IX.

St Cosme Priory near Tours - Vestiges of the church
Vestiges of the church

Sadly, incurable deafness soon led him to abandon his diplomatic career. Ronsard therefore devoted his time to studies and court life.

Between 1550 and 1552 he published his Odes, which became famous for the poem The Rose from the Amours de Cassandre. 

The book is dedicated to the 15-year old Cassandre Salviati.

In the years that followed, the aggravation of his disability forced Ronsard to quit court life and retire to St Cosme Priory. 

The last years of his life were sadly marked by the death of his friends of La Pleiade.

The sharp deterioration of his health worsened alarmingly by the end of 1585. 

Pierre de Ronsard died at St Cosme Priory and was buried on December 27, 1585 near the altar.

The Rose by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585)

To Cassandre

Pierre de Ronsard in 1620
Pierre de Ronsard in 1620

See, Mignonne, hath not the Rose,
That this morning did unclose
Her purple mantle to the light,
Lost, before the day be dead,
The glory of her raiment red,
Her colour, bright as yours is bright?

Ah, Mignonne, in how few hours,
The petals of her purple flowers
All have faded, fallen, died;
Sad Nature, mother ruinous,
That seest thy fair child perish thus
‘Twixt matin song and even tide.

Hear me, my darling, speaking sooth,
Gather the fleet flower of your youth,
Take ye your pleasure at the best;
Be merry ere your beauty flit,
For length of days will tarnish it
Like roses that were loveliest.

Department of Indre-et-Loire – City of Tours – La Riche district
Coordinates for St Cosme Priory: Lat 47.389114 – Long 0.651208

Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Vestiges of the church

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