Argenteuil, Abbey of

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Benedictine monastery near Versailles, founded for religious women, between 650 and 675, by Erminric and his wife, Numana, courtiers at the Neustrian court. Its

early history is obscure. In the 9th century, Theotrade, a daughter of Charlemagne, and Judith, a daughter of Charles the Bald, were abbesses; but their role was probably limited to receiving the revenues and giving protection from afar. It was destroyed c. 1000 by the Normans and restored again under Robert the Pious. Héloïse made her first studies there c. 1115 before becoming a pupil of abelard in Paris and took the veil there (111820) after the tragic sequel to her marriage. She became superior soon afterward. In 1129 she and the nuns were replaced by monks, and the monastery became a dependent priory of St. Denis. A very austere regime was introduced, but a gradual decline set in. A reform took place in 1646 under the Maurists. Of the four monks living there at its suppression in 1791, only one left the religious life. The holy cloak of Argenteuil, thought to be the seamless garment woven for Christ by his mother, was venerated at the priory; it is first mentioned in a 12th-century document of uncertain value.

Bibliography: a. lesort, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 4:2239. l. h. cottineau Repertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés (Mâcon 193539) v. 1. h. glaser, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 1:833834.

[c. falk]