Saint-Hippolyte Convent

Saint-Hippolyte Convent

The Saint-Hippolyte Convent, also known as the Monastery of Saint-Fulrade, is in the small French commune of Saint-Hippolyte. The convent was founded by the Abbott Fulrade in around 774 AD and formed the centre point around which the estate of Saint-Hippolyte flourished.

The Saint-Hippolyte Convent was originally furnished within with the relics of its namesake, which were brought from Rome and which are now under ownership of the monastery of Saint-Denis.

History of Saint-Hippolyte Convent

The small town of Saint-Hippolyte (also known as Saint-Hippolyte-sur-le-Doubs) is in the north-east of the Doubs area, near the border of Switzerland, and south of Montbeliard.

The Saint-Hippolyte Convent lies at the confluence of the Doubs and Dessoubre rivers. It was built after Saint Fulrad, later 14th Abbott of the Abbey of Saint-Denis, and the counsellor of both Pippin and Charlemange, obtained permission from Pope Stephen II to build two monasteries; one in Saint-Hippolyte, and one in Lièpvre.

Construction began in 760 AD. In 764 AD, Saint Fulrad obtained the relics of Saint Hippolytus, a 3rd century bishop and martyr, which later became the namesake of both the monastery and the village. The monastery is first mentioned in ‘Sankt Pilt’ in 835 AD.

The monks of Saint-Denis were forced to defend their title to the two priories in 853, when an attempt was made to have them granted as a fief to a royal kinsman. The monks were successful in blocking the move, and obtained confirmation of their title in Verdun in 854 AD.

Saint-Hippolyte Convent would later become a cour colongère, which was made up of an agglomeration of farmers who were governed by common law under a Lord. This means of organising the rural world during the Middle Ages was popular, and varied in size from a few dwellings to a whole village or multiple villages.

The convent being a centre point of the cour colongère allowed the estate of Saint-Hippolyte to flourish and grow.

Saint-Hippolyte Convent Today

Today, the Convent is part of the historic scenery which Saint-Hippolyte is famous for. The 5 walls and towers which surrounded Saint-Hippolyte no longer exist, though there is a road that encircles the area, delineating houses and gardens from the vineyards that make the famous Saint-Hippolyte Rouge (red wine.)

Nearby, there is a former 16th century castle which was destroyed during the 30 Years War and rebuilt in the early 18th century. There is also a fortified church of the 14th and 15th centuries which was enlarged in the 19th century. Its stained glass windows depict the life of St. Hippolyte. Saint-Hippolyte also has many fountains.

Getting to Saint-Hippolyte Convent

Saint-Hippolyte is reachable in around 40 minutes from Strasbourg by car, via the A35. There’s also a ‘TER’ bus that takes around 45 minutes from Strasbourg.

A 14th-Century Nun Faked Her Own Death to Escape Convent Life

In the early 14th century, a nun named Joan of Leeds faked her own death with a 𠇍ummy” and a bogus burial. Scholars in the United Kingdom recently reexamined and translated a salty letter the Archbishop of York wrote about the escapade. Several centuries later, it remains the only known record of Joan’s gutsy escape from the house of St. Clement by York.

The 1318 letter from the archbishop, William Melton, is a little vague about exactly how this all went down. He writes: “with the help of numerous of her accomplices, evildoers, with malice aforethought, [Joan of Leeds] crafted a dummy in the likeness of her body in order to mislead the devoted faithful, and she had no shame in procuring its burial in a sacred space amongst the religious of that place.”

The letter doesn’t describe what Joan’s 𠇍ummy” looked like or was made of. Sarah Rees Jones, a history professor at the University of York, speculates she may have filled a shroud with dirt or sand and arranged for its burial.

A volume ofꀔth-century registers of the Archbishops of York that reveals the story of a runaway nun.

The archbishop sent his letter to a religious leader in the town of Beverley because of a rumor that Joan was spotted there. He demanded she return to her religious house, bemoaning that “she now wanders at large to the notorious peril to her soul and to the scandal of all of her order.” Though the archbishop didn’t know why Joan ran away, he had no problem editorializing: “seduced by indecency, she involved herself irreverently and perverted her path of life arrogantly to the way of carnal lust and away from poverty and obedience.”

Runaway nuns were rare, but not unheard of at a time when girls became nuns as early as age 13. Both religious devotion and practical considerations likely motivated girls to choose this path. Women had trouble finding other work to support themselves and faced difficulty finding a husband if they didn’t have a good dowry.

“Surviving could be hard, and I think one benefit that being in a religious house always offered was that you had bed and board,” Rees Jones says.

𠇏rom archaeology, we can tell that people living in religious houses, even quite small ones like the one that Joan of Leeds lived in, had probably on average a better standard of life than the ordinary run-of-the-mill people outside of the religious life,” she continues. The high rate at which women died in childbirth was also a factor in why nuns might typically live a little longer than the average woman, she says.

“Sometimes even wealthier families might want at least one of their daughters to become religious for the religious benefit—so she could pray for the family, but also as an alternative to finding her a husband and providing her with a dowry,” Rees Jones says.

But cloistered life wasn’t for everyone, and some nuns rebelled. (The Decameron, a 14th-century collection of stories by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio, includes a tale about frisky nuns that later inspired the 2017 comedy The Little Hours.)

Unfortunately, we don’t know what Joan’s background was, why she became a nun or why she ran away. We don’t even know her age, which could be anywhere from early teens to mid-30s.

“I’ve always imagined her as being at the younger end of that spectrum,” Rees Jones says, “just because of other similar stories where we known that women abscond, even from the same religious house, in order to get married. It suggests that maybe they’re in their later teens, early twenties.”

The archbishop’s letter about Joan was translated from the original Latin by Paul Dryburgh, a principal record specialist with the U.K.’s National Archives, for a project with the University of York’s Borthwick Institute for Archives. The project involves combing through the registers of the 14th-century Archbishops of York and posting them online. Gary Brannan, the access archivist at the institute, says the project will likely reveal more individual people like Joan whose stories don’t appear anywhere else.

Rees Jones is the project’s principal investigator, and she’s particularly interested in discovering the political roles that archbishops played in the 14th century. For example, the last archbishop in the project’s purview, Richard le Scrope, was executed in 1405 for rebelling against King Henry IV. She says we still don’t really know what Richard’s motivations were, and hopes the project will shed some light on this.

And because one of the archbishops’ duties was 𠇍isciplining the religious who had lapsed,” Rees Jones says “there are a huge number of stories of this sort” that the project will probably uncover. 

The Saba Islander

Front part of the Convent was the home of Dr. George Illidge van Romondt. The chapel and other rooms were added in 1891.

In the year 1888 the Roman Catholic Priest Father Stephanus J.J. Nieuwenhuis passed away and in his last will and testament he left two houses, a plot of land and Ten thousand guilders to the Dominican Nuns in The Netherlands. The money and buildings were intended to lure the Dominican Nuns to St. Maarten to start a school there. He had been a priest on St. Martin for 35 years and saw where there was a great need for a school.

One of the buildings was the stately mansion which had belonged to Dr. George Illidge van Romondt who died in 1854 and which building was acquired after his death by Father Nieuwenhuis.

On a Saturday morning May 3 rd 1890 at 8am the first Nuns of the Dominican Order arrived on St. Maarten.

After a Mass of Thanksgiving for their safe arrival in the afternoon they went to the future convent where everything was nicely prepared by Father Jordanus Onderwater O.P. and Miss Catherine Mildrum the former house keeper of the late Father Niewenhuys. The convent was dedicated to St. Joseph. The Reverend Sister Egelie was the first principal of the new school and the first prioress of the St. Joseph Convent.

Sister Regina Egelie was the first head of the school and Prioress of the St. Joseph Convent

On June 2 nd 1890 the doors of the convent were opened to children to attend school there. 132 children came to go to the new school, Catholics and non-Catholics and 62 toddlers. The latter posed the biggest problem. Losing their freedom and not accustomed to the Nuns and the strange way they were dressed there was a screaming and crying and a number of children jumped through the windows and ran out the doors. The lessons were given in the English language. A couple of the Nuns had a problem with the language, but in time as locals were trained to become teachers the language problem was solved.

Some of the local teachers who helped to make the St. Joseph School a success. Left to right. Cynthia Lake, Sister Agatha, Agnes Houtman, Hilda Conner, Sister Magda, Julian Conner, Marie Greaux, Clare Conner, Sister Modeste and Edna Peterson. 1952

In 1891 Miss Catharina Mildrum died and left her possessions to the convent. With this money a Gothic Chapel and a classroom were added to the existing building. It was designed by Mr. R. Terlaag while Mr. G. Stephens was the builder.

A few years later in the night of February 17 th and 18 th 1893 the Convent was threatened by fire when the house of Mrs. A van Romondt on the opposite side of the street was consumed by fire. Because of the high winds and in order to prevent the Convent from burning down the roof had to be kept wet and thus saved.

St. Joseph School teachers 1937: Seated left to right. Miss Agnes de Weever, Sister Dorothea, Miss Marie Greaux. Standing Sister Modeste, Miss Mary Conner, Sister Everdina, Sister Magdala and Miss Hilda Conner.

Over the years many locals served as teachers in the convent.

Many well-known people in the community also went to school there. I myself got my typing degree from lessons which I attended there.

For some years in the nineteen twenties there was also a boarding school in the Convent for young ladies from St. Barth’s but there were also some from St. Martin as well.

This building housed the St. Mary Institute where girls from St. Barth’s, St. Martin and a few from other islands were housed. It later became the St. Joseph School. It was severely damaged in hurricane Irma on September 6th, 2017 and in the process of being restored.

On March 12 th , 1954 the official opening of the new Convent took place and was presided over by Mgr. A. van der Veen Zeppenfeldt assisted by Father Barbanson and Father Maessen.

After 1990 the Convent went over into private hands. Hurricane Irma a category five hurricane which devastated St. Maarten on September 6 th , 2017 destroyed the roof of the former Convent. A new cement roof replaced the old roof while the owners the Goia family taking into consideration the historic nature of the building will replace the former roof so that the building will look the same as before the hurricane.

The new St. Joseph Convent was dedicated on March 12th, 1954. It was severely damaged in hurricane Irma. A concrete roof has been added and in keeping with the important history of the Dominican Nuns and the St. Joseph Convent the present owners the Goia family have decided to put by the original roof as it was before the hurricane. A word of praise is in place to the Goia family for this gesture.

The office of the Dutch representative is located upstairs and downstairs there are a number of stores. Other improvement are being carried out to the former St. Joseph School and the property in general. This property will now be upgraded and better secured and will continue to enjoy its historic place in Philipsburg.

Much thanks to Mr. Mathis S. Voges for allowing me to use text and photos of his history of the Dominican Nuns which will soon be published in the English Language.

From the Beast of Gévaudan to the present day…

The Malzieu-Ville and its surroundings will also be the scene of the famous story of the Beast of Gévaudan. From 1764 to 1767, it traumatised, attacked and killed in the region, leaving behind a still thick mystery that continues to fascinate ! To find out all about this dark affair, take a look at our summary here.

Last but not least, during the Second World War, Margeride was a hiding place for many Jewish families as well as for artists, philisophers, scientists and resistance fighters. In this respect, the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, 10 kilometres south of Le Malzieu, plays a central role.

Le Malzieu will also be a place of passage for pilgrims coming from Le Puy-en-Velay and on their way to Santiago de Compostela, as attested by some period maps and shell inscriptions. Arriving in the town, they had to cross the Truyère on the Notre-Dame bridge, before heading towards Aubrac.

The Crucifixion Scenes at San Marco

I’ve talked about Fra Angelico before… basically, he is one of the most amazing religious painters that has ever lived. Vasari, who did a whole history about pretty much all the major artists up to Michaelangelo, of whom he was a contempary, even said, ” It is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.”

Did I also mention that Fra Angelico used to paint the Crucifixion in tears? Because he totally did.

Anyway, I found this beautiful artwork of Fra Angelico in the middle of working on one of these images of the Crucifixion, and I just had to share:

Fra Angelico Visited By Angels, by Paul-Hippolyte Flandrin, c. 1894. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Rouen, France.

It is a picture of Fra Angelico being visited by angels, who are watching him as he weeps while painting the Crucifixion. And who can blame him? Honestly, it brings to mind a quote by Saint Augustine, in which Saint Augustine said, “A single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water.”

Where is Fra Angelico painting these paintings of the Crucifixion… and why? Simple. Fra Angelico used to be a Dominican monk who lived in a the convent of San Marco, located in Florence, Italy. He was already a trained artist when he entered into the monastery, and the brothers quickly put him to work! He painted the walls of the monasteries with his frescoes.

His more elaborate pictures often were in the common areas, such as this one, which was is on the opposite wall to the chapter house.

Crucifixion and Saints, by Fra Angelico, c. 1441-42. Convento di San Marco, Florence, Italy.

However he also painted simpler pictures of the Crucifixion, often in the cells of his brothers and fellow Dominicans. And so, for today I would like to highlight his pictures of the Crucifixion that he made for his fellow brothers in for their own personal cells.

  • Crucifixion with Saint Dominic, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 17), Florence, Italy.
  • Crucifixion with Saint Dominic in Mortification, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 20), Florence, Italy.
  • Crucifixion with Virgin Mary, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 22), Florence, Italy.
  • Crucifixion with Saints, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 25), Florence, Italy.
  • Nailing to the Cross, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 36), Florence, Italy.
  • Crucifixion with Saints, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 37), Florence, Italy.
  • Crucifixion with Saints, by Fra Angelico, c. 15th century. Convento di San Marco (cell 38), Florence, Italy.

The convent is no longer used as a convent. In fact, today it’s a museum. However, many people have gone there for as a pilgrimage to see these stunning paintings by Fra Angelico, one of the few painters who is not only a stunning artist but also beatified as well. There, his work continues to inspire those that visit — either in person or afar! — today.


The municipality is nestled in the Liepvrette river valley [2] as the river descends from the main chain of the Vosges into the Col des Bagenelles, a mountain pass in the Vosges. The Liepvrette River runs northeast through Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines before reaching Lièpvre. Below Lièpvre, the river runs between the ruins of Frankenbourg castle in the north and the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg in the south then across the municipality of Scherwiller. The Liepvrette then joins the Giessen River(Scheer in former times), which flows from the Val de Villé, before emptying into the River Ill Sélestat.

The municipality of Lièpvre is bordered by several summits in the Vosges: Brézouard (1229 m), Taennchel (992 m), and High-Koenigsbourg (775 m) to the south Altenberg (880 m), Chalmont (697 m), Rocher du Coucou (819 m) and Frankenbourg (703 m) to the north. The Altenberg chain separates the Valley of Lièpvre from the Val de Villé. A road built in 1905 allowed access to Rombach-le-Franc, 2 km (1.2 mi) from Lièpvre. This road leads to the hamlet of Hingrie situated 7 km (4.3 mi) from Lièpvre and onto the Col de Fouchy. The village of Liepvre owes its name to the Liepvrette River and its origin to the priory of Lièpvre. Lièpvre is in the center of the valley and sits 275 meters above sea level.

Municipal Boundaries Edit

In 1445 the hamlet of Musloch, between Lièpvre and Sainte-Croix-aux-Mines, was the refuge for farmers of the Valley of Lièpvre who surprised and defeated the Armagnacs near the Rocher des Violons after the Armagnacs invaded Lorraine. [3] Musloch, named after a fifteenth-century mine, was called Museloch in 1517 and Mauslauch in 1782. A mine called St. Anne was opened there in 1545, but was abandoned in 1750 because the cost of exploitation was too high. Musloch was an established hamlet of about thirteen families by the time the mine closed.

Hermitage Edit

A monk named Bobolinus settled near Lièpvre where he built a hermitage named Bobolinocella by 774. This hermitage named for Bobolinocella is mentioned in a document from Charlemagne in 774.

A convent was also established in Echéry by a monk named Gorze Blidulphe during the tenth century. The monks were able to develop the priory due to the silver mines they discovered, which became celebrated in the region and in Lorraine.

Foundation of Lièpvre Edit

Lièpvre (Leberau in German, Lebera or Lebraha in Latin) is a large village situated on the Lièpvrette. [4] The village was founded by Fulrad, a future abbot of Saint Denis, whose parents had extensive possessions in Alsace. People from opposite sides of the Rhine met with each other in the valley of Lièpvre. Fulrad was a Carolingian supporter and probably built a convent in this location as a way to access other side of the border. Fulrad was also very close to benefactors of Wissembourg's abbey, which included Fulrad's brother, Boniface. Fulrad had two brothers, Gausbert and Boniface, and a sister named Waldrade. [5] In 770 Fulrad began construction of a priory in Fulradocella, Lièpvre's primitive name. The priory was later named Leberaha.

The monks began to cultivate lands in the valley after the founding of the priory. In 774, Charlemagne approved Lièpvre's founding in a diploma sent from Duren and assures him at the same time of several other properties situated in the royal domain of Kintzheim's with good lands for farming and hunting.

The first road into the valley was constructed in 750 after Fulrad received a license to construct it from Pepin the Short. This road was constructed by serfs from the Saint-Dié (Saint Déodat's) region of the Valley of Galilée. This road passed through Lièpvre into the plain of Alsace. The road no longer exists today, and was replaced in 1761 by another road that passed through to Col de Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.

Convent of Lièpvre Edit

In 770 Fulrad began the construction of a priory named Fulradocella (which later became Lièpvre). The construction of the priory took eight years, during which Lièpvre's village became developed. During the first year of his reign, on January 13, 769, Charlemagne donated Saint-Dié's convent to Fulrad. Roughly thirty kilometers of Lièpvre's territory was taken by the royal treasury of King Childéric II from the mayor Wulfoald. Wulfoald was accused of high treason and plotting against Pepin the Short. Wulfoald was condemned to death, but Fulrad's intervention spared his life. In return, Wulfoald gave King Childéric II his possessions, which included the Saint Mihiel abbey in the diocese of Verdun. [6]

On September 14, 774, Charlemagne granted properties in the royal domain of Kintzheim to Fulrad. In 781 Charlemagne also granted a vast area of forests from Kintzheim to the abbey of Saint Denis, as well as the tithes of Lièpvre's nearby lands. He then named the convent for Saint Alexander and Saint Cucuphas. [7] Saint Alexander's relics were first transported to Paris, then transferred to Lièpvre. In year 835 the relics of Saint Alexander and Saint Cucufat were transferred to the abbey of Saint-Denis under Hilduin's abbacy. Cucuphas's relics were brought back from Spain between 777 and 778, when Sulaiman Ibn-Al Arabi governed the region of Barcelona. Sulaiman previously submitted to Pippin the Short between 756–753 to send Cucuphas's bones away from Spain to avoid the Moslems. The bones were given to Fulrad, who sent them to Lièpvre. [8] The church was dedicated to Saint Cucuphas and continued until the fifteenth century.

In 750 Fulrad became abbot of Saint Denis and began alteration works on the abbey Merovingian. These works began after Pepin the Short's death in 771. On February 24 775 Fulrad dedicated the church reconstruction of Saint Denis to Charlemagne. [9]

Fulrad was based at other convents during the reconstruction, the most notable of which were Salonne near Castle Salt marshes (Moselle) and Saint Hippolyte near Lièpvre. He was also integral to the creation of Esslingen-am-Neckar's convent near Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg.

On February 26, 757, Pope Stephen II gave Fulrad permission to build convents on his own lands. [10] Lièpvre's village was already prosperous by time of Fulrad's death. According to the former necrology of the Abbey of Saint Denis, the body of the abbot Fulrad was first interred at Saint Denis, then transferred to Lièpvre's priory. The donation of Fulrad's estate to the abbey was confirmed much later by Lothair I in a diploma sent by Verdun on August 4, 854, which clarifies that the Abbey of Saint Denis owns all of Fulrad's former possessions.

Royal basilica of Saint Denis Edit

Fulrad's will, drafted in 777, [11] devised all of his possessions to the Abbey of Saint Denis, [12] where he was the abbot from 750 to 784. This will was intended as a precaution to ensure that these possessions would not be scattered by rivalries after Fulrad's death. This donation was endorsed in 768 by Pippin the Short. [13] These possessions include a villa connecting Saint Alexander to Lièpvre, which Fulrad received from his sister Waldrade.

This will also mentioned possessions granted to Fulrad from Charlemagne in 774, [14] including areas in Alsace, Garmaringa (Guémar), Odeldinga (near Orschwiller), and Ridmarca. [15] Fulrad's will also mentioned the possessions received from Chrodradus on July 17, 767. Widensolen's church, in the district of Colmar, does not appear in Fulrad's will drafted in 777, but does appear in a copy which he executed a little later. [16]

Fulrad's death Edit

While Fulrad and Charlemagne were alive, Lièpvre was financially secure. In 843 Emperor Lothario Ier gave Quuningishaim (Kintzheim) to the count of Nordgau [17] though this property had been given to Fulrad by Charlemagne in 774. The count also hoped also to take the forest, on which Lièpvre's priory depended. [18]

Abbot Lewis, who obtained the abbey of Saint Denis in 841, attempted to remove the possessions of the priories of Lièpvre and Saint Hippolyte to grant them in fief after Fulrad's death. The monks of Saint Denis opposed this seizure and brought the issue before the assembly of bishops, whom reunited at the request of the king of France near Compiègne in 853. The monks produced Fulrad's original will and the bull of Pope Stephan II, which granted all of the property in question to the abbey of Saint-Denis. The council of Verberie, consisting of four archbishops and seventeen bishops, decided in favor of the monks and pronounced that Lièpvre's priers could never be alienated. [19]

Abbot Lewis of Saint Denis was caught by the Normans and ransomed soon afterwards. A large ransom was paid by several churches, including the abbey of Saint Denis. After his liberation, Abbot Lewis declared that after his death all incomes of the abbeys of Saint Denis were to be used for the improvement of these churches as well as for feeding the poor in the churches' districts. [20] Charles le Chauve, king of France, approved this disposal in a diploma signed in Compiègne in 856.

Disputed priory Edit

Charlemagne was the first to give his support for Lièpvre's priory in 774. In February 847 Charles the Bald confirmed the possessions and the privileges of Lièpvre's convent. In 856 Charles the Bald also confirmed the capacities of Abbot Louis. The Pope (858-867) confirmed Lièpvre's charter on April 18, 862. On June 12, 866, Lothair II, king of Lorraine, renewed the support the diploma that his father had given twelve years before in favor of Lièpvre's convent. Worms's treaty, made around 876, between the three brothers, Charles the Bald, Louis the German and Lothair I, determined that the possessions of Lièpvre's priory had to remain in the hands of the Abbey of Saint-Denis. Louis the Bald sent the diploma to Pope Léon IV to seal this alliance and to obtain his approval. On June 5, 903 Charles the Simple sent letters to assure the monks of Lièpvre that no attempts would be made to appropriate the property of Saint-Denis. After Charles the Simple was dethroned in 922, Henry I the Fowler, King of Germania, imposed his control on all Lotharingia (923–923).

On October 15, 980, Lièpvre was conquered by Louis IV. Otto II, King of Germania, declared Lièpvre's priory to be part of the abbey of Saint-Denis. At this point Lièpvre's convent and the surrounding valley were part of Alsace. The convent and valley were passed to the Duchy of Lorraine when the Duke of Lorraine acquired the convent. Pope Nicholas II reiterated in a papal bull issued on April 18, 1061, that Lièpvre's convent was to remain part of Saint-Denis. [21] Later popes also issued a similar bulls on December 18, 1156, and October 11, 1259, reiterating that the possessions of the priory must stay in the patrimony of Saint Denis. [22] In 1342, 1348 and 1354 Lièpvre was also confirmed to have the benefits of the abbey of Saint Denis. Alexander IV also granted his support for the monks of Lièpvre in 1388. In 1396, Charles II declares himself the defender of Lièpvre's convent.

The monks of Lièpvre often lost possessions after frequent changes of sovereign power in Alsace because the monks could not adequately defend themselves. They appealed to defenders, and were first protected by the nobles of Echéry. Echéry was later conquered by Landvogt of Alsace and later passed to the dukes of Lorraine. By 1377 Hattstatt was charged as the defender of the Lièpvre valley. This defense was not effective enough to protect Lièpvre, because the monks of Saint Denis asked Charles VI of France to intervene with the Duke of Lorraine to restore Saint-Denis's possessions. The Abbey of Saint Denis had completely lost Valley of Lièpvre at the beginning of the fifteenth century was never able to recover these lost possessions. Hattstats swore to defend the priory and received half of the income from the Valley of Lièpvre in 1384. Hattstatt defended the Valley of Lièpvre until 1585. Documents dating from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries indicated that Lièpvre's possessions appear to belong to Saint Denis, including properties acquired in Nancy, France in 1502.

Dukes of Lorraine Edit

Charlemagne charged the Dukes of Lorraine with the protection of Lièpvre in the eighth century. The Dukes of Lorraine were required to intervene militarily in every case of appropriation that could threaten the interests of the monks. While this intervention began as a benefit and courtesy to the monks, later the Dukes of Lorraine used this power as an excuse to interfere excessively in the business of the Valley of Lièpvre to the detriment of Lièpvre's priory. Dukes of Lorraine knew of the lead and iron mines run by the monks of Echéry since 963. The duchy of Lorraine placed a tithe on the mines by the time of Gerard, bishop of Toul, Duke of Lorraine from 1049 to 1070. [23] In 1052 Henri III attempted to seize tithes from Lièpvre with the support of Leo IX, but the Duke of Lorraine defended the Abbey of Saint Denis. In 1078 Gerard's successor, Duke Thierry, gave conquered possessions in Yves to Saint Denis. [24]

Duke Charles of Lorraine seized all of the possessions of Lièpvre's priory in 1400, and these possessions were passed to the Pope by the bishop of Verdun in 1402. The monks of Saint-Denis sought restoration of these possessions in 1404 from Charles VI of France. In 1405 the monks approached the Duke of Lorraine seeking the return of this property. Charles VI of France eventually ordered two representatives to get the Duke's explanation on this seizure but the representatives never found the Duke. [25] The church in Nancy, France gained the income from Lièpvre's priory, overseen by Warin, bishop of Verdun. [26] Pope Pius VI confirmed that Our Lady of Nancy received the tithes of the Valley of Lièpvre, Saint Hippolyte, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Lorraine, and Sainte-Croix-aux-Mines.

Decline and disappearance of the priory Edit

The church of Lièpvre was built during Charlemagne's reign. The church was spacious and had a multi-colored marble floor. This marble tiled floor was removed in 1577 by Christophe de Bassompierre, the Master of Finances of Lorraine, and was transferred to Haroué's castle. The marble floor no longer exists today. Visitors to the priory in 1509 listed relics held by the priory: a reliquary with Saint Alexander's bones, eight other bronzed wooden reliquaries, gold-colored copper, and other ivory relics. [27] The reliquary said to contain Saint Alexander's bones was broken by 1602. [28] An inventory made in 1746 enumerates missals, chalices, pinafore dresses and the other ornaments, but does not mention any other relics, including the bones of Saint Alexander. [29]

By 1229 Lièpvre's priory was burdened by large debts. Abbot Odon of Saint-Denis lent Lièpvre's priory 530 pounds, to be paid back from the annual income from the priory. The debt was nearly paid off by 1271 and owed Saint-Denis less than one hundred pound to be paid within five years. The priory of Lièpvre made a loan of eighty pounds in 1365 for the repair of a church that was ravaged by the English.

The most prominent building in Lièpvre was a basilica with a square bell tower, which existed throughout the seventeenth century. In 1652 the Mayor of Lièpvre became alarmed by the disrepair of the priory and ordered repairs to begin, particularly on the roof. The nave was damaged in 1666, leaving the choir as the only intact part of the church. Wars in the region throughout the seventeenth century damaged the church further. [30] Repairs were attempted after 1738, but the priory remained in poor repair.

The ruins of Lièpvre's convent were demolished in 1751, and the material used for the construction of the Rombach-le-Franc's parochial church and Lièpvre's church. The former choir of the convent became a chapel until the French Revolution in 1789, and local residents bought the arable land belonging to the convent. The French government seized the forests and the chapel was sold and transformed into a house. During the Revolution, the Valley of Lièpvre was incorporated into the department of Haut-Rhin and no longer depended on Lorraine.

Current church Edit

Lièpvre's current church was constructed around 1752 on the grounds where the previous church stood. Gravestones and the altar from the previous chapel were placed in the new church in 1790, though the altar was changed in 1843. Originally these gravestones lined the walls of the church, but were later moved to the front of the church. The church also contains a baptistery that still remains under the bell tower of the church.

The church bell originally came from the convent of Saint Alexander and dates from 1542. According to the popular legend she was hidden in a meadow near Lièpvre during the Thirty Years' War. The bell was dug up a century later and installed in the bell tower.

On February 6, 2004, thirteenth-century frescoes were discovered under the vaults of the choir of the old church during the renovation of the new church. These frescoes dated from between 1200 and 1250, and were preserved with the choir after the rest of the church was demolished in 1751.

Battles and invasions Edit

Conrad de Lichtenberg, bishop of Strasbourg attacked the valley in the thirteenth century. Troops made frequent raids on the valley, particularly against Lièpvre. Before this, frequent battles took place between Lichtenberg and Lorraine until 1290, when a girl related to the Duke of Lorraine married Conrad de Fribourg. The marriage was celebrated at the bishop's palace in Strasbourg and was followed by forty-eight years of peace between Strasbourg and Lorraine.

In 1331 Jean d'Echerick went to war against the Duke of Lorraine. Jean d'Echerick attacked Bertrimoutier, Provenchères-sur-Fave, Remomeix, and Sainte Marguerite. He kidnapped the canons Jean of Toulon, Geoffroy of Herbeuviller and Nicolas de Porcher, locked them into his dungeon, and demanded 750 livres tournois in ransom. In 1338 Lièpvre was at war against Berthold of Bucheck, the bishop of Strasbourg. Jean d'Echery commanded the troops of Sélestat. The bishop attacked the Valley of Lièpvre and besieged Echerick's castle, accompanied by troops loyal to Jean Senn, the Bishop of Basel. Lièpvre and Rombach-le-Franc burned and Lièpvre's convent was partially destroyed.

On July 4, 1365, the valley was attacked by 40,000 mercenaries hired by Arnaud de Cervole. They set fire to Lièpvre, Rombach-le-Franc and Saint Croix-aux-Mines. On May 25, 1366 Arnaud de Cervole was killed near Mâcon during a quarrel with one of his people as he tried to collect the mercenaries scattered in Languedoc.

The Armagnacs in the valley Edit

The Armagnacs were armed gangs of former mercenaries in France during the fifteenth century under Charles VII's reign. They acted as soldiers of fortune, living on plunder and randoms during peacetime. They were prevalent throughout France during the reigns of Jean II and Charles V. After the French-English armistice of 1444, Charles VII employed a militia of 30,000 French, English, and Spanish mercenaries against the Lorraine and Alsace. One thousand Scots also participated in this militia under the leadership of Jean de Mongommery with their headquarters in Châtenois.

The Armagnacs were under the control of the Dauphin Louis XI and entered Alsace in 1444, forcing cities and villages to surrender to their control. Lièpvre and Rombach-le-Franc surrendered to the Dauphin to avoid destruction, but Lièpvre was still attacked by the Armagnacs. The Armagnacs camped in Alsace for more than a year and left when Charles VII ordered them to evacuate the region during the spring of 1445. The Armagnacs were unexpectedly attacked by troops from the city of Schlestadt (Sélestat).

Troops from Strasbourg took revenge on the inhabitants of Lièpvre and Rombach-le-Franc for initially supporting the Armagnacs' entrance into the Lièpvrette valley. They plundered the valley, which probably is when Fulrad's bones disappeared from Lièpvre's priory.

Conflict between Duke Antoine of Lorraine and the Lord of Geroldseck Edit

Duke Antoine of Lorraine and the Lord of Geroldeck fought over the mines in the Valley of Lièpvre. Antoine was aided by 6000 troops sent by François de Sickingen and seized Saint-Hippolyte by surprise. Antoine also defeated the troops from Geroldseck who were blocking passage into the valley. Residents of Saint-Hippolyte that allowed troops from Geroldeck into the valley were punished by Anoine after he reclaimed the valley.

Old fountain Edit

The old fountain is on Clemenceau Street and has two large pillars with a crossbar marked with the year 1550. The fountain itself is not marked with any date.

Churches Edit

A Romanic chapel build at the end of the eleventh century stands next to Lièpvre's Church of the Assumption. The chapel was renovated in the seventeenth century with coupled windows and columns. This chapel was classified as a registered historic memorial on March 22, 1934. [31]

Lord Echery's grave from the former chapel was placed outside the new church in 1790. The gravestone was moved into the Church of the Assumption in 1998.

Another chapel, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and is placed in front of a former school. This chapel was built in 1905 where a former house burned down in 1903.

Four borders bounding the grounds that belonged to Lièpvre's priory in the town of Vaurière, are dated 1680 and marked with the letters S.G. (for Saint Georges). These grounds have been occupied by the Saint Georges Collegiate Church of Nancy since 1502.

Restoration of Our Lady of the Assumption Edit

Frescoes dating from the thirteenth century were discovered on February 6, 2004, during restoration work on the church of Our Lady of the Assumption. The paintings are under the vault of the former chapel in the entrance to the hall of the current church. Workmen uncovered the frescoes under a layer of plaster while cleaning the ceiling. The frescoes depict Saint Mark, Saint Matthew, Saint John, Saint Luke, a lion and a bull. These frescoes were seriously damaged in 1917 when the church bells were requisitioned by the Germans during World War I. The church entrance, including the former choir of the old church, was reopened on Sunday, April 2, 2006, after a twenty-year restoration project. Originally, the choir and the altar faced east according to tradition, but following successive enlargements of the church they were eventually moved to face west. The choir and altar were reoriented during the restoration project to face east again.

Fountain of Saint Alexander Edit

The fountain of Saint Alexander was discovered by accident in 1987 in the locality of Raincorne south of Lièpvre. A few children from Lièpvre were building a small dam when they uncovered the ruins. They discovered an ancient shaft from the Early Middle Ages, possibly from the time of Abbot Fulrad. This fountain was supplied by a tank located near the priory. Waters thought to cure eye diseases were frequently named after Saint Alexander during the Middle Ages pilgrims came from the plain of Alsace and from the Vosges to collect water from this fountain. Monks from the Priory of Lièpvre constructed a conduit of bored wooden pipes joined together by hand-forged scraps of iron. The source of the water used for the fountain still exists today, though the basin was moved twenty meters north in June 1990 to avoid being buried by road works on the RN59. The fountain carried Alexander's name in memory of relics of Saint Alexander Fulrad had brought from Rome in 763.


The name "Aigues-Mortes" was attested in 1248 in the Latinized form Aquae Mortuae, which means "dead water", or "stagnant water". The name comes from the marshes and ponds that surround the village (which has never had potable water). The inhabitants of the commune are known as Aigues-Mortais or Aigues-Mortaises. [5]

The Occitan Aigas Mortas is equivalent to toponymic types in the Morteau Oil dialect cf. Morteau (Doubs): mortua Aqua (1105, VTF521) [ clarification needed ] and Morteaue (Haute-Marne): mortua Aqua (1163, VTF521). Grau du Roy in French means "pond of the King". In Occitan, grau means "pond with extension".

Antiquity Edit

The Roman general Gaius Marius is said to have founded Aigues-Mortes around 102 BC, but there is no documentary evidence to support this.

A Roman by the name of Peccius cultivated the first salt marsh and gave his name to the Marsh of Peccais. [6] Salt mining started from the Neolithic period and was continued in the Hellenistic period, but the ancient uses of saline have not resulted in any major archaeological discovery. It is likely that any remains were destroyed by modern saline facilities. [7]

Middle Ages Edit

In 791, Charlemagne erected the Matafère Tower [fr] amid the swamps for the safety of fishermen and salt workers. Some argue that the signaling and transmission of news was not foreign to the building of this tower which was designed to give warning in case of arrival of a fleet, as for the Magne Tower [fr] at Nîmes.

The purpose of this tower was part of the war plan and spiritual plan which Charlemagne granted at the Benedictine abbey, dedicated to Opus Dei (work of God) and whose incessant chanting, day and night, was to designate the convent as Psalmody or Psalmodi. This monastery still existed in 812, as confirmed by an act of endowment made by the Badila from Nîmes at the abbey. [8]

At that time, the people lived in reed huts and made their living from fishing, hunting, and salt production from several small salt marshes along the sea shore. The region was then under the rule of the monks from the Abbey of Psalmody.

In 1240, Louis IX, who wanted to get rid of the dependency on the Italian maritime republics for transporting troops to the Crusades, focused on the strategic position of his kingdom. At that time, Marseille belonged to his brother Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, Agde to the Count of Toulouse, and Montpellier to the King of Aragon. Louis IX wanted direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. He obtained the town and the surrounding lands by exchange of properties with the monks of the abbey. Residents were exempt from the salt tax which was previously levied so that they could now take the salt unconstrained. [9]

He built a road between the marshes and built the Carbonnière Tower [fr] to serve as a watchtower and protect access to the city. Louis IX then built the Constance Tower [fr] on the site of the old Matafère Tower, to house the garrison. In 1272, his son and successor, Philip III the Bold, ordered the continuation of the construction of walls to completely encircle the small town. The work would not be completed for another 30 years.

This was the city from which Louis IX twice departed for the Seventh Crusade in 1248 and for the Eighth Crusade in 1270, where he died of dysentery at Tunis.

The year 1270 has been established, mistakenly for many historians, as the last step of a process initiated at the end of the 11th century. The judgment is hasty because the transfer of crusaders or mercenaries from the harbour of Aigues-Mortes continued after this year. The order given in 1275 to Sir Guillaume de Roussillon by Philip III the Bold and Pope Gregory X after the Council of Lyons in 1274 to reinforce Saint-Jean d'Acre in the East shows that maritime activity continued for a ninth crusade which never took place. [10]

There is a popular belief that the sea reached Aigues-Mortes in 1270. In fact, as confirmed by studies of the engineer Charles Leon Dombre, the whole of Aigues-Mortes, including the port itself, was in the Marette pond, the Canal-Viel and Grau Louis, the Canal Viel being the access channel to the sea. The Grau-Louis was approximately at the modern location of La Grande-Motte.

At the beginning of the 14th century, Philip the Fair used the fortified site to incarcerate the Templars. Between 8 and 11 November 1307, forty-five of them were put to the question, found guilty, and held prisoner in the Tower of Constance. [11]

Modern and contemporary periods Edit

Aigues-Mortes still retained its privileges granted by the kings. [12] Curiously it was a great Protestant in the person of Jean d'Harambure "the One-Eyed", light horse commander of King Henry IV and former governor of Vendôme who would be appointed governor of Aigues-Mortes and the Carbonnière Tower on 4 September 1607. To do this, he took an oath before the Constable of France Henri de Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc, who was a Catholic and supported the rival Adrien de Chanmont, the Lord of Berichère. The conflict continued until 1612, and Harambure, supported by the pastors of Lower Languedoc and the inhabitants, finished it by a personal appeal to the Queen. [13] He eventually resigned on 27 February 1615 in favour of his son Jean d'Harambure, but King Louis XIII restored him for six years. On 27 July 1616 he resigned again in favour of Gaspard III de Coligny, but not without obtaining a token of appreciation for the judges and consuls of the city.

At the beginning of the 15th century, important works were being undertaken to facilitate access to Aigues-Mortes from the sea. The old Grau-Louis, dug for the Crusades, was replaced by the Grau-de-la-Croisette and a port was dug at the base of the Tower of Constance. It lost its importance from 1481 when Provence and Marseille were attached to the kingdom of France. Only the exploitation of the Peccais salt marshes encouraged François I, in 1532, to connect the salt industry of Aigues-Mortes to the sea. This channel, said Grau-Henry, silted up in turn. The opening, in 1752, of the Grau-du-Roi solved the problem for a while. A final solution was found in 1806 by connecting the Aigues-Mortes river port through the Canal du Rhône à Sète. [14]

Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame / Couvent Saint-Christophe d'Arthabaska

In 1869, Father Philippe-Hippolyte Suzor, first pastor of Saint-Christophe d’Arthabaska Parish, organized a meeting to study the construction of a convent-school for girls. The attending citizens were unanimously in favour of the project. By August 1870 Saint-Christophe d’Arthabaska Convent-School was completed thanks to donations from individuals of the region. Father Suzor entrusted the direction of the convent-school to the Sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. In addition, he donated an adjoining piece of land measuring about seven acres. It was agreed that, as long as the sisters used these gifts for the purposes of education, they would continue to retain ownership. However, if they ceased teaching, the building and the land would rightfully return to the pastor of the parish. In 1870, Sister Sainte-Dosithée (Suzanne Denis) and Sister Sainte-Synclétique (Marie-Adèle Mailloux) were sent to survey the area. They reported that they were shocked by the poor condition of the modest church which consisted of an unadorned chapel covered by a thatched roof. Regarding the convent, the two-storey, brick building was completely unfurnished. Sister Saint-Sylvain (Aimée Bernier), Sister Saint-Ephrem (Marie-Octavie Hudon-Beaulieu) and Sister Saint-Cyriaque (Marie-Odile Bérubé), arrived at the convent–school to begin the school year. On August 23, 1870, Bishop Laflèche of Trois-Rivières blessed the convent–school. During that year, the sisters received one hundred fifty-one students, of whom forty-four were boarders and sixty-five were day students. The convent-school’s curriculum offered French and English classes and courses in painting, sewing, and music. A piano, a harmonium and an organ were put at the music students’ disposal. Every student needed to have appropriate references to be admitted as boarders. Their uniform was comprised of a dress, shoes and a hat – all black – and jewellery was not permitted. The parents received a report of their daughter’s behaviour and performance at the end of each month.

In 1894, the sisters and the pastor of the parish arrived at an agreement about leasing part of the property to build a school playground. In 1898, because the convent-school needed more space, an annex was built. In 1929, the convent-school was affiliated to Université Laval. Two years later, a second annex was built. On May 29, 1949, the first meeting of the Notre-Dame-des-Bois-Francs Alumnae Association was held. In attendance were no fewer than two hundred eighty-three former students. On May 3, 1970, Saint-Christophe Parish celebrated the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the convent-school. A special eleven-page publication was published in the newspaper L’Union. The Alumni Association participated in the special Mass and the banquet organized for the occasion. In 1974, the sisters moved from the convent-school to the Arthabaska Residence, situated close by on Laurier Street West. As had been agreed more than one hundred years earlier, the land and building were ceded to the pastor of Saint-Christophe d’Arthabaska Parish, Father Joseph Bergeron. In 1979, the convent-school was demolished and the Congrégation de Notre-Dame sisters permanently left the parish.

NB: This text was written using documents found in the archival holdings in our possession and does not constitute a complete administrative history of the teaching establishment.

Exterior view - Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame / Couvent Saint-Christophe d'Arthabaska, Arthabaska, Quebec, [18-].

The History of the Martin County Convent is the History of Stanton

The origins of the City of Stanton and Martin County are linked to six German Carmelite friars from Kansas who came to West Texas to set up a Catholic colony. They arrived in August of 1882 and named their town Marienfeld. Here, they built the first buildings of what would become the town of Stanton, nestled halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso, including the adobe Monastery of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, whose structure still stands today.

The Martin County Convent, as it is commonly referred to, is the only remaining building on this former religious compound of great significance to West Texas and southern New Mexico. At different points in its history, the area surrounding the monastery has played host to a church, farm, school, boarding house, and nunnery.

The Martin County Convent Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit group of citizens actively working to preserve this historic site. Their hope is to restore the building to its original appearance as the 1884 Carmelite Monastery and open it to the public as an interpretive center on the founding of Stanton and Our Lady of Mercy Academy. The grounds are to be landscaped into a native plant garden.

Learn more about the history of the Historic Carmelite Monastery in Stanton, Texas.

Saint-Hippolyte Convent - History

Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500

UW-Madison TEI edition, March 3, 2003

Eckenstein, Lina, d. 1931
Woman under monasticism: chapters on saint-lore and convent life between A.D. 500 and A.D. 1500
Cambridge: University Press, 1896
xv, 496 p.


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