St Maur de Glanfeuil Abbey
St. Maur, a disciple of St-Benedict of Nursia, founded St Maur de Glanfeuil Abbey in the 6th century.
He chose the site of an ancient Roman villa and its temple which stood on the river bank, in a small forest of oak trees.
The name Glanfeuil indeed originates from the words gland meaning acorn and feuil meaning leaf.
St. Maur replaced the temple by a church, however, re-used its columns in the foundations.
The bases of these columns are still visible inside the church.
The temple was built during the 4th century AD and dedicated to the Roman Goddess of Water.
Modern excavations conducted in the church courtyard uncovered more vestiges.
The monks of St Maur of Glanfeuil Abbey fled the Norman invasions of the 9th century.
They took with them the relics of St. Maur and founded a new monastery in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in central France.
They returned and revived St Maur de Glanfeuil Abbey (and rebuilt the church) in the late 9th century, however, left the relics in Auvergne.
This coincided with the visit of Pope Urban II in 1096.
However, deprived of St. Maur’s relics, the abbey never regained its former wealth and influence.
Abbey church of St Maur de Glanfeuil
The English sacked and razed the abbey during the Hundred Years War.
Rebuilt and partly fortified, the abbey was again sacked during the Wars of Religion because of its proximity to Saumur, a major Protestant stronghold.
The monks of the Order of St. Maur rebuilt it during the 17th century, but it was reformed shortly after.
They were expelled during the French Revolution and the property dispersed.
The monks of the Abbey of Solesmes revived Glanfeuil during the 19th century.
They restored and converted the abbey into a prestigious religious school (from 1901 to 1915.)
The current chapel was built in 1955 and encompasses the former Chapelle Saint-Michel and the 11th century Romanesque church whose western facade is adorned with a Carolingian cross or Cross of Saint-Maur.
The department of Maine-et-Loire acquired St Maur de Glanfeuil Abbey and converted into a ecumenical centre from 1968 to 1994.
Port Ménitré village, on the opposite bank, boasts a magnificent view of the former abbey (good spot for a photo!)
Department of Maine-et-Loire – Le Thoureil
Coordinates St Maur de Glanfeuil Abbey: Lat 47.391202 – Long -0.283506