Faremoutiers, Abbey of

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Monastery of Benedictine nuns, located in the center of Brie, to the east of Paris, five and a half miles west of Coulommiers, France, in the Diocese of Meaux (patrons, Our Lady; St. Peter). It was founded (c. 627) by Agneric, steward of the King of Austrasia and an old friend of St. columban, for his daughter fara, who was made the first abbess under the direction of monks from luxeuil. The abbey enjoyed two periods of prosperity. The first, during the early Middle Ages, was marked by many saints: Fara herself, who trained Telchide, Abbess of jouarre-en-brie; Fara's successor, Sedride, her half-sister; and ethelburga, as well as the latter's niece, Ercongote. The abbess exercised seigneurial rights over the town formed around the abbey. In 1099 the community, which had grown lax, was reformed by the abbot of marmoutier at the request of the king and ivo of chartres. During the 12th century the abbey counted 110 nuns. The buildings, destroyed by a fire in 1140, were rebuilt, and the new church was consecrated in 1145. At that time, seven priories were dependent upon Faremoutiers. Toward the end of the 15th century much-needed reform of the abbey by the bishop of Meaux was thwarted by the abbess, on grounds of the abbey's episcopal exemption. Later the reform of fontevrault was introduced (1518) by Marie Cornu, who arrived from chelles with 11 nuns. During the abbey's second period of prosperity, the abbesses, appointed by the king, were remarkable women: Françoise de la Châtre (d. 1643); her niece, Jeanne de Plas (d. 1677), a relative of Fénelon; Madame du Blé d'Uxelles (d. 1685), a friend of Bossuet, who delivered her funeral oration (now lost) and who corresponded with the nuns (150 letters are extant). During the French Revolution the monastery was abolished, the church and convent buildings destroyed. The property, however, was not parceled out. Bishop Gaillard of Meaux recovered possession of this property and on Nov. 5, 1931, restored Faremoutiers, with Benedictine nuns from the priory of Amillis, one of his earlier foundations (September 1924). Today Faremoutiers's community of 40 nuns under a prioress is a minor pontifical cloister. Besides the Divine Office and manual labor, the nuns do catechetical work, visit the poor and sick, and hold closed retreats.

Bibliography: t. du plessis, Histoire de l'église de Meaux, 2 v. (Paris 1731) v.1, passim. h. m. delsart, Ames saintes du grand siècle (Maredsous 1931). Sainte Fare et Faremoutiers: Treize siècles de vie monastique (Faremoutiers 1957). Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912), s.v. "Faremoutiers."

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