Driving around we discovered the magnificent monastery of Mont-Dieu. We’ve heard about it but never been there ourselves because it’s not visible from the main road. It’s still feels as remote as it must have been during its period.
Located in the heart of the Ardennes , the monastery of Mont-Dieu was built in an open field in the middle of an immense forest of 1123 hectares, and through which sources, feeding once numerous ponds.
This Carthusian monastery is founded in 1137 by Odo, abbot of Saint-Remi near Reims. Pope Innocent III recognised the new monastery in a bull, that same year on December 9, 1137. The inhabitant monks followed the Rule of Saint Bruno and it was used for live and pray until the French Revolution.
Even while secluded and isolated in remote forest, the abbey was attacked and destroyed several times. During the religious wars, the abbey was rebuilt in 1617, at the time of Louis XIII, with red brick and black and chaining carved stone in the same style as the famous Place Ducal in Charleville. The new monastery was build like a army fortress with a fast area and huge walls. What you see today is less than 10% of the original size.
After the expulsion of the monks in the French Revolution, the buildings were converted into state prison … and many properties and possessions of the abbey, spread over some forty villages, sold as national property in 1791.
The monastery was converted into a jail and later a spinning factory, the important industry in the region of Sedan. The buildings, neglected, vandalized and ruined, were gradually sold as construction material and slowly demolished.
The buildings know many vicissitudes, particularly during the Battle of Stonehouse , May 40, as shown by some walls still riddled with shrapnel. After passing into the hands of various owners, the monastery of Mont-Dieu, still isolated in its splendid isolation, appears to be recovering slowly trying to regain the luster of its golden age disappeared.
sign of this golden age are the numerous famous visitors among whose are pope Eugène III, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cistercian order and Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Cantorbéry.