Savigny Abbey (Abbaye de Savigny) was a monastery near the village of Savigny-le-Vieux (Manche), in northern France. It was founded early in the 12th century. Initially it was the central house of the Congregation of Savigny, who were Benedictines; by 1150 it was Cistercian.
It was situated on the confines of Normandy and Brittany. The founder was Vital de Mortain, Canon of the Collegiate Church of St. Evroul, who, resigning his prebend to embrace an eremitical life under Robert of Arbrissel in the forest of Craon (Anjou), and leaving the latter, retired to the forest of Savigny (1105), where he built a hermitage. Soon, however, the number of disciples who gathered around him necessitated the construction of adequate buildings, in which was instituted the monastic life, following the Rule of St. Benedict, and interpreted in a manner similar to the Cistercians.
Rudolph, lord of Fougeres, confirmed to the monastery (1112) the grants he had formerly made to Vital, and from then dates the foundation of the monastery. Its growth was rapid, and Vital and Saint Aymon were canonized. It had 33 subordinate houses, within thirty years.
In 1119 Pope Celestine II, then in Angers, took it under his immediate protection, and strongly commended it to the neighbouring nobles. Under Geoffroy, successor to Vital, Henry I of England established and generously endowed 29 monasteries of this Congregation in his dominions. Bernard of Clairvaux also held them in high esteem, and it was at his request that their monks, in the times of the antipope Anacletus, declared in favour of Pope Innocent II.
Serlon, third successor of the Founder, found it difficult to retain his jurisdiction over the English monasteries, who wished to make themselves independent, and so determined to affiliate the entire Congregation to Citeaux, which was effected at the General Chapter of 1147.
In the mid-16th century the Abbey was pillaged and partly burned by Calvinists, and records of the following year mention but twenty-four monks remaining. It continued to exist until the Revolution reduced it to a heap of ruins, and scattered its then existing members. The church was restored in 1869.
The church, a model of Cistercian architecture, was restored in 1869. The abbey was listed as a Monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture in 1924, and now serves for parish purposes.
- Obrecht, Edmond. "Abbey of Savigny." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 31 Jan. 2015
- Mérimée PA00110611, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French) Ancienne abbaye
- Tissier, Bibliotheca patrum cisterciensum (Bonnefont, 1660–69);
- Merlet and Moutier, Cartulaire des Vaux de Cernay (Paris, 1857);
- De Dion, Etudes sur les églises de l'ordre de Citeaux (Tours, 1889);
- Arthur Du Monstier, Neustria Pia (Rouen, 1663);
- Hist. Litt. de la France, by the Benedictines of St. Maur IX, X, XII (Paris, 1868–70);
- Manrique, Annales cistercienses (Lyons, 1642œ59);
- Martène and Durand, Thesaurus novus anecdotorum (Paris, 1717); Gallia christiana, XI (Paris, 1805);
- Janauschek, Originum cisterciensum (Vienna, 1877), I;
- Roger Dodsworth, Monasticon anglicanum (London, 1682), II;
- Jongelinus, Notitia abbatiarum ord. cist. (Cologne, 1640);
- Migne, Dict. des Ord. Relig. (Paris, 1850).
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- L’abbaye de Savigny renaît peu à peu, in La Manche libre (in French)