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Frigolet Abbey
Tarascon, France

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Frigolet Abbey

Located on a high hill called La Montagnette between Avignon and Tarascon, France, the Frigolet Abbey (L'abbaye St. Michel de Frigolet) is occupied by a religious community of the Canon Regular's Order of Prémontré.  Founded in the 10th century, but only confirmed as a priory by the Pope in 1155, it was originally of the Benedictine Order, but today is of the Norbertine Order.  It is dedicated to St. Michael, hence the name: L'abbaye Frigolet de St. Michel.  Founded by pioneer monks of Monmajour, the abbey follows the Augustinian rule.  Since the beginning fo the abbey, 13 canons have been maintained, even though it had fallen to 4 during the French Revolution.

The abbey's history was very tormented, and the buildings which compose the abbey were even sold as national goods during the revolution.  In the 17th century, Augustinian monks, Hiéronymite priests, and priests of St. Jérôme took the abbey and tried to revive its religious heritage, and was successful right up until the French Revolution.  At the time of the revolution in 1789, the library was destroyed by a fire.  Between 1831 and 1841, the monastery was transformed into a boarding school, welcoming amongst its students the famous Provençal author, Mistral.  It was re-bought by the Dioceses of Aix around 1856, and religious life was restored, thanks to Father Edmond Boulbon.  1869 was a big year for Frigolet - Pope Pius IX raised the status of the priory to an abbey.  Unfortunately, the abbey still needed to persevere through more difficult times.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the anti-religious politics led to the expulsion of the Frigolet religious community in 1903. Father Edmond Boulbon, who had brought back religion to the monastery 47 years earlier, was exiled to Belgium.  All were able to come back 19 years later in 1922.

The Frigolet canons did not isolate themselves in their abbey, rather they ensured religious services to several surrounding parishes of the Montagnette (Barbentane, Graveson, Boulbon et Mézoargues).

On the same token, the canons offer hospitality to countless visitors, and receive retirees and religious pilgrims.  Actually, hospitality is one of the abbey's main functions, offering many types of visits: from retirement stays to tourists.

Today, the abbey belongs to the Premonstratensian Order and continues to follow Augustinian rule.  A group of sisters from the Congregation of Sisters from St. Charles of Nancy (Congrégation des Sœurs de Saint-Charles de Nancy) share the same daily practices of the Norbertines of Frigolet, all consecrating themselves to a life of devout prayer and selfless devotion. Dating back to its far-off origins, Frigolet Abbey possesses grandiose towers, outer walls resembling ramparts, all equipped with crenel and machicolation.  The abbey church, of neogothic style, has namely the Notre Dame chapel of Bon Remède, ornated with magnificent paneling offered to them by Anne d'Autriche (Anne of Austria), the mother of Louis XIV. 

Frigolet is also know for a famous liqueur, produced in Châteaurenard, France.  The Norbertines at St. Norbert College like to make toasts with this special liqueur at certain campus events.

Compiled by Emily Sparapani using various sources from Frigolet Abbaye, Tarascon, France.

Center for Norbertine Studies

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