Grandmont, Abbey and Order of

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The name of a religious order of men founded by stephen of muret at Muret, north of Limoges, France, whose motherhouse was moved from there to a new house a few miles away at Grandmont soon after the founder's death in 1124. The original community, which Stephen formed from his followers, was planned along severe lines inspired by the monastic life that the founder had seen flourishing among eremetical houses in southern Italy. At first the brethren lived in cells, but fairly soon conventual buildings of the usual, contemporary pattern were adopted. Houses were in secluded places and adopted a rule of poverty as rigorous as that which later characterized the mendicant orders. For their subsistence, the religious relied on alms and on the agricultural labors of the conversi. These latter were always a major element in the order, generally outnumbering the clerical brethren; at first almost complete control of the administration of the monastic property was entrusted to them, but this arrangement soon proved unwise and was accordingly modified. For those who were not lay brothers enclosure was complete. Monastic buildings remained small and simple, and the order's lack of parochial responsibilities partially explains why the nave of their churches was narrower than the choir, which had no aisle. The founder's way of life drew empirically on the Rule of St. augustine, the benedictine rule, and the Rule of St. Basil (see basilian monasticism), but the order came to be classed among Benedictine orders. At first it did not have elaborate regulations, but these were supplied under the fourth prior, Stephen de Liciac (113963), and show signs of both cistercian and carthusian influence. A custumal was produced in 117071.

The major reason for the spread of the order was its high spiritual reputation, but expansion was aided also by the proximity of the motherhouse to the great pilgrimage routes to saint-lÉonard-le-noblat, Our Lady of Rocamadour, and santiago de compostela. Notable early patrons included both the Empress Matilda, who left Grandmont a large legacy, and her son King henry ii of England, whose generous benefactions included a large gift of English lead for the church roof of Grandmont, which, local tradition avers, arrived in 800 carts drawn by English horses of the same color. About two-thirds of the houses of the order were in Henry's French lands; there were only three houses in England, all founded in the early 13th century. Stephen's priorate had seen a phenomenal expansion of the Order of Grandmont, some 60 houses having been founded by the time of his death. At its peak (mid-13th century) the order had c. 140 houses and 2,000 members.

Reform was found necessary in the time of Guillaume Pellicier (131736); he was made the first abbot of Grandmont by Pope John XXII, and the order was reorganized. Its subsequent history was generally uneventful, but more reforms were instituted with the help of vincent de paul. In 1768 the order was suppressed by the Commission des Réguliers of France, at which time its membership had shrunk to about 100.

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 187890) v.204, for most of the principal documents concerning the early history of the order. j. becquet, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 4.2:150414, for evaluation and augmentation of these documents. j. levesque, Annales ordinis grandimontis (Troyes 1662). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 1:132628.

[j. c. dickinson]