Aniane, Abbey of

views updated


Benedictine abbey of the Holy Savior, in lower Languedoc, France; in the former Diocese of Maguelone (today Montpellier). It was founded by Witiza (benedict of aniane), son of the Count of Maguelone, in 782 and was favored by Charlemagne, friend of Benedict, immunity being granted in 787. It soon prospered and spread the Benedictine rule to nearby Gellone (saint-guilhemdu-dÉsert, founded in 806 by Duke William Short Nose, hero of chansons de geste ), and also to Cormery (Touraine), Île-Barbe (Lyons), micy (Orléans), Sainte-Colombe-lès-Sens, and saint-savin-sur-gartempe (Poitou). The Council of Aachen (817) imposed Aniane's monastic customs on all monasteries of the Empire. Archbishop Rostaing of Arles occupied the rich abbey 890), leaving it to his successor; it later went to the bishops of Béziers. In the 11th century the Holy See recognized Gellone's independence, which was disputed by Aniane. Conflict with chaise-dieu over a priory was settled by compromise (13th century). Aniane's abbots were important in general chapters, in Narbonne province, and at the papal court in Avignon (14th century); several became bishops of Béziers, Nîmes, Saint-Papoul, and Montpellier. Decline in the 16th century (commendation was begun in 1542) was followed by the pillaging of Calvinists, who burned the archives and furnishings and razed the church and buildings (156162). The Bonzi bishops of Béziers acquired the abbey's goods (16161703), redeeming the irregularity of their acquisition by charitable zeal. Clement de Bonzi (162159) instituted the maurist reform in 1633. His nephew, Cardinal Pierre de Bonzi (16601703), rebuilt (1679) and consecrated the church (1688). The 300 monks of 800 declined to ten by 1768. Aniane was suppressed in the Revolution (1790); the abbey church became the parish church for the village of Aniane, and the buildings (now a house of detention) became a textile mill. Both Smaragdus Ardon (d. 843?), biographer of the founder (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores 14.1:178200), and an anonymous chronicler of Charlemagne's reign were monks of Aniane.

Bibliography: Cartulaires des abbayes d'Aniane et de Gel-lone, ed. p. alaus et al., 2 v. (Montpellier 18981910). r. thomassy, "Critique des deux chartes de fondation de l'abbaye de St-Guillem-du-Désert," Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartres (Paris 1839) 2:177187. a. du bourg, "L'Abbaye d'Aniane, son rôle, son influence, sa destinée," Mélanges de littérature et d'histoire religieuses pour jubilé de Mgr de Cabrières (18741899) (Paris 1899) 1:165193. a. wilmart, "Le Lectionnaire d'Aniane," Revue Mabillon 13 (1923) 4053, study of the only Visigothic liturgical text in France. r. gazeau, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 1:573574. a. rastoul, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 3:277279. l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) l:115117.

[p. cousin]