Landévennec, Abbey of

views updated


Dedicated to St. Guénolé (Gwenole); belonging to Benedictines of the Congregation of Subiaco, in Land-évennec, Finistère, Brittany, France; Diocese of Quimper. It was founded c. 480 by St. Guénolé, born in Brittany of parents who had migrated from Wales (SS. Fracan and Guen). His brothers Jacut and Guéthénoc and sister Clervie also are venerated as saints. Educated by "the eminent master" St. Budoc on the island of Lavret, Guénolé and 11 monks settled on the barren island of Topepig for three years before moving to Landévennec. Feasts of St. Guénolé are celebrated on March 3 (his death, 532?) and April 28 (translation). SS. Guenaël and Judul were early successors of Guénolé. The 6th-century Celtic usages of iona (St. columba or Columbcille) were abandoned under Abbot Matmonoc on the order of Louis I the Pious (818). Gurdistan (Wrdisten), under whom the abbey prospered, wrote the vita of St. Guénoléc. 880.

Norman invasions drove the monks to Montreuilsur-Mer with the relics of their founder (914). They returned under John, ally of Duke Alan Twisted Beard, liberator of Brittany (936939); the relics stayed at Montreuil until they were destroyed in 1793. Several times burned and pillaged (14th16th century), the abbey became commendatory on the death of Jean du Vieux Chastel (1522), last of the 51 regular abbots. It was reformed by maurists (1636), but the Jansenist crisis of 1718 was fatal. The last commendatory abbot, Bp. Conen de Saint-Luc of Quimper, suppressed the title of abbot and incorporated the abbey into his mensal revenue (1784). The last monks were dispersed in 1791, and the buildings were demolished in the early 19th century.

In the 18th century the abbey's domain included eight priories and nomination to ten parishes. Prior Audren de Kerdrel founded the Société d'Histoire de Bretagne (1684). François Delfau (163776), critic of commendation, was exiled from saint-denis to Land-évennec. Subprior François Louvard was a noted Jansenist (1696). Louis Le Pelletier (d. 1733) compiled a Breton dictionary.

In 1950 Louis-Felix Colliot, third abbot of Kerbénéat (built in 1878), purchased Landévennec, and in 1958 the community of Kerbénéat moved to new buildings in Landévennec. The church was consecrated in 1965, at which time the abbey had a hostel for men's retreats, published the bulletin Pax every three months, and had assembled a Breton library and a museum of Landévennec history. MSS of the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries attributed to Landévennec are in Quimper, Oxford, Cambridge, Copenhagen, and New York. A 17th-century necrology of Landévennec has been edited by A. Oheix (Bulletin diocésain d'histoire et d'archeologie de Quimper 1913).

Bibliography: n. mars, "L'Extinction du titre abbatial de Landévennec en 1784," Association Bretonne 69 (1960). p. de la haye, L'Abbaye de Landévennec (Châteaudun 1958). l. h. cottineau, Reépertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 1:154950. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 8.1:123756. j. templÉ, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 5:323324. n. mars, "Histoire du royal monastère de S. Guénolé de Landévennec (MS of 1648)," Pax (195661).

[g. ollivier]