Last weekend I had the honour in accompanying my dear friend Alan, who is also my schola master, and sœur Dorothy Marie-André OSB (Obl) to L’Abbeye Notre Dame d’Argentan, a community of contemplative Benedictine nuns in the region of Lower Normandy, France.
Alan was to receive the honour of becoming an Oblate of the Abbey following a two year period as postulant. This he humbly received in a very moving ceremony during Mass on Monday 8th October when a true relic of St Benedict was displayed on the altar.
|Alan Pierre-Benoit recites his Vows at the Altar|
The Abbey is very ancient founded in the sixth century and as one would expect of such an old Abbey, a colourful history. It was sacked during the Norman period, dissolved during the French revolution and bombed during the Second World War.
Housed within the Abbey is a relic of St Opportune, an abbess of the Abbey during the 8th Century. St. Opportune is very famous as in intercessor for childless couples. Whilst there we were shown albums of letters, and more recently of photographs, from thankful parents who have now been blessed by children.
|Reliquary of St Opportune|
|Reliquary of St Benedict|
The good sisters of Argentan truly live the Rule; in their hearts, minds, words and deeds. Their unrestrained hospitality was a wonder to behold. Without exception the faces of the community literally “lit-up” with love and joy when they saw Alan and Dorothy. They made sure I was not forgotten and given a loving welcome as a fellow Benedictine oblate.
The Abbey has been blessed with the wisdom of its Abbesse Mère Mariè-Paul, a very wise woman, as indeed is her predecessor Mère Abbesse Emerita Mariè-Joseph. We were most fortunate to have a number of meetings with the Abbess and I recall one of her wonderful pronouncements:
We have so much for which to be thankful in this life. It is a good job we have an eternity to give thanks as it will take all eternity to offer them.
|Mother Abbess,standing back left, Mother Infirmarian back right, Mother Emerita seated front.|
We left with little gifts of prayers and tokens to remind us of a truly wonderful weekend; one of which we hope to repeat in the future.
In your kindness please pray for frère Alan Pierre-Benoit and the community of L’Abbeye Notre Dame d’Argentan.
As usual a small set of photographs is available HERE