Moissac, Abbey of

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Former Benedictine monastery in the Diocese of Cahors, Department of Tarnet-Garonne, in southern France. Founded in the time of King Dagobert I (d. 639) by St. amandus, who became the first abbot, this community provided the Church with many bishops from the ranks of its early abbots. Amandus himself became bishop of Maastricht; St. ansbert, archbishop of Rouen; and St. Leothade, bishop of Auch (691). The abbey was destroyed by the Saracens in 732 and was later raided by the Hungarians and Normans. During this chaotic period the monastery was able to rebuild and continue only with the protection of the powerful counts of Toulouse. After it became a dependency of cluny in 1047, Moissac once again became prosperous, housing at one time more than 1,000 monks. It was the headquarters of the Cluniac province of Aquitaine and administered a large number of other houses. In 1122 the body of St. cyprian of Carthage was transferred to the abbey church of St. Peter at Moissac. With the institution of commendation in the late Middle Ages, the establishment began to decline. It was secularized by paul v in 1626 and finally suppressed in 1790. The church of St. Peter, containing in the tympanum of its south portal some of the most famous works of Romanesque sculpture, is now a parish church. The 12th-century cloisters are still well preserved.

Bibliography: Gallia Christiana (Paris 171585) 1:158172. Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores (Berlin 1826) 1:280313. a. lagrÈze-fossat, Études historiques sur Moissac, 3v. (Paris 187074). a. anglÈs, L'Abbaye de Moissac (Paris 1911). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 11.2:170115. k. hofmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:523524.

[l. gaillard]