Val-des-Ecoliers, Monastery of

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Or Grand Val, former monastery of canons regular of st. augustine, in Verbiesles, near Chaumont-en-Bassigny (Haute-Marne), France, Diocese of Langres. About 1200, the valley attracted an eminent doctor of the University of Paris, William the Englishman, and three colleagues anxious to flee the world. In 1212 Bp. William of Joinville granted them the property they occupied, and in 1215 officially approved their foundation. Meanwhile, others from the University of Paris had joined the founders who were living according to the Rule of St. augustine, and whose constitutions had been inspired by the Abbey of saint-victor. The monastery was consecrated to Our Lady and took the name of Val-des-Ecoliers (Latin, Vallis scholarium ). In 1219 Pope Honorius III sanctioned the new order. Prodigious development forced it to expand and found other houses. The Val, as motherhouse, had as many as 22 daughter houses under its authority, and in 1469, was exempted from episcopal jurisdiction by Rome. It remained a priory, however, until 1539 when Pope Paul III raised it to an abbey. The number and quality of its recruits allowed the abbey to retain a high level of spiritual and intellectual life; its members included important masters of the University of Paris. But with commendation came a period of decline, and in 1636, Abbot Laurent Michel, after trying in vain to reform his order, united it to the congregation of sainte-geneviÉve. The abbey, which shortly after its foundation had moved two kilometers from its initial location, and which had suffered much during the 16th-and 17th-century wars, was rebuilt on a monumental scale; it included an outstanding library. It was almost totally destroyed during the French Revolution, and the remaining buildings are now part of a private home where General Pershing was headquartered during World War I.

Bibliography: Gallia Christiana, v.113 (Paris 171585),v.1416 (Paris 185665) 4:777795. c. f. roussel, Le Diocèse de Langres, 4 v. (Langres 1873-79) 2:114117, list of priors and abbots. p. glorieux, Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIII siècle (Paris 193334); 1:321; 2:275281. j. laurent and f. claudon, Diocèses de Langres et de Dijon (Archives de la France monastique 45; Ligugé-Paris 1941) 386391.

[j. c. didier]