L'Abbaye de Solesmes

A cornestone of Gregorian Chant

These high walls reveal to the inquisitive the small priory that was founded in the 11th Century and was threatened with destruction during the Revolution. Later taken over by the Benedictine Order, established by dom Guéranger in the 19th century, today it is a grand abbey which leads numerous monasteries both in France and abroad.

  

Having passed through the medieval door of the abbey church, you will find the famous Saints de Solesmes, masterpieces of 15/16th Century French sculpture. You can admire the 15th century sculpture La Mise au Tombeau du Christ (putting Christ in his tomb) and in the same style, the 16th century Chapel of our Lady. 

                                                                                                                   

    

                                 

Abbey of Solesmes                                            Les Saints de Solesmes/P. Cadiou   

 

 

 

The abbey at Solesmes The Abbey at Solesmes, A cornerstone of Gregorian Chant, this Abbey reunites centuries of history with its religious music.

Attending a choral service is a deep and unforgettable experience.

A model of the abbey can be seen in the monastery’s gift shop, as well as illustrations and commentaries on the daily life of the monks and the facilities within the abbey walls.

 
 
 
 
 
 
              Times of the services
Mass Normal singing 10h00 Lasts 1h15, 1h45 Sundays and bank holidays
Sext 13h00 Lasts 15 minutes
None 13h50 Lasts 15 minutes
Vespers 17h00 Lasts 30 minutes, subject to change according to the season
Complines 20h30 Lasts 30 minutes
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

© Abbey of Solesmes

 

A day with the Monks of Solesmes

 

As in any monastery, the monks’ daily routine centres around prayer and religious services, in Latin or Gregorian chant according to church protocol. The majority of the research into the origins of this ancient chant, altered throughout the centuries, has been carried out here at Solesmes.

After the Vigil or Matins at 5:30am and the Lauds at 7:30am, the monks study the Bible in preparation for Mass, the middle of their day, at 10am.
Two short services known as Sext and None at 1pm and 1:50pm mark the beginning and end of lunchtime. Vespers at 5pm is the only afternoon service and Complines at 8:30pm marks the beginning of the night-time silence. All services except the Vigil are open to the public. Numerous activities fill the rest of the day, including moments of sharing and fraternal encounters. Each monk has numerous tasks in the intellectual, manual (maintenance), commercial (Gregorian and religious publishing), reception (welcoming visitors) and musical fields. No unemployment, not overworked and no retirement. 
It is a laborious yet fulfilling existence, centred around worship to God and Man. 
 
 
What are the novices looking for in your abbey ? 
 
We do not enter Solesmes for the Gregorian chant, but in the quest for God. Saint-Benoît beckons those who seek God and the abbey community supports and guides its monks in their quest. Our journey of separation from the outside world is foremost our devotion to God.
 

What does Gregorian chant represent today, particularly in prayer ? 

Solesmes is renowned throughout the world for its Gregorian chant, even if this is not the most important part of our lives, but more a preferred means in our quest for God. Religious Gregorian chant has survived the centuries and expresses man’s praise and homage before God.
 

Yours monks vow to abide by Saint Benoît’s rules of stability, obedience and morality. Can you explain to us the importance of these three vows ?

A monk like any religious person seeks to imitate Christ’s life on Earth. These three vows are a gift from God and a pathway to freedom.What may seem restrictive from the outside is actually a means of gaining ultimate freedom in our quest for God : we forego certain rights in our search for a greater good : God. Benedictine life of strict obedience involves a balance between prayer and work, both manual and intellectual.We serve the Lord through worship and serve our brothers through prayer and work.
 

Testimonial by Father Soltner

 

A few steps away from the Abbey Saint-Pierre, you will find the neogothic architecture of the Abbey of Saint-Cécile where the nuns go about their contemplative lives. Visitors have open access to the church.