Villeneuve-les-Avignon, Abbey of
VILLENEUVE-LES-AVIGNON, ABBEY OF
Or Abbey of Saint-André of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, on the Rhone, facing Avignon, France, a former Benedictine monastery under the patronage of SS. Andrew and Martin and of St. Caesarius, a recluse who died at this spot on the hill of Andaon in 586 (Latin, Andoanense or Avenionense ). The earliest origins of this monastery can no longer be traced, but Bp. Garnerius of Avignon established monks at the site in 976. In 1024 a basilica in honor of St. Martin was built over the sanctuary dedicated to St. Andrew. From 1063 to 1087 St. Pons was abbot there. The 12th and 13th centuries were a prosperous era for the monastery and were marked by many gifts from the Counts of Toulouse; in 1118 Pope Gelasius II consecrated the new abbey church; Abbot Raymond II rebuilt the monastery buildings c. 1171 to 1175. In 1226 the King authorized the monks to build a town around their monastery, but it was not until 1292, under King Philip IV the Fair, that the city of Villeneuve came into being. Fortified by the kings, it was separated only by the Rhone from the papal domain, the venaissin. In the 16th century, Abbot François de Castellane restored the monastic buildings and published a Breviary according to the usage of Saint-André. A successor, François Brancas (1573–98) was a Jewish convert, familiar with 22 languages. Jean Sicard rebuilt the cloister in 1604, and the monastery was amalgamated with the Congregation of the Exempt. In 1635, however, Abbot du Rouvre called in the maurists. Prior Perreciot built a new dormitory and refectory. In 1768 only ten monks remained in the abbey, and these were dispersed by the Revolution. Fort-Saint-Andrew, a vast enclosure built by the King of France (1362–68) to face avignon and encompassing the monastery and village of Saint-André, still stands. Inside is the Romanesque chapel of Our Lady of Belvéset, admirable for the purity of its lines.
Bibliography: Gallia Christiana, v.1–13 (Paris 1715–85),v.14–16 (Paris 1856–65) 1:871–885. m. mÉritan, Étude sur les abbés et le monastère de Saint-André de Villeneuve-lez-Avignon (Avignon 1898). l. h. labande, Le Palais des papes et les monuments d'Avignon …, 2 v. (Marseille 1925). f. benoÎt, Villeneuve-lez-Avignon (Paris 1930). l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 2: 3393–94.