Scriptorium, St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes, France

Abbaye des Bénédictins de Solesmes (Sarthe) XIV. – Le Scriptorium

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Solesmes Abbey or St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes) is a Benedictine monastery in Solesmes (Sarthe, France), famous as the source of the restoration of Benedictine monastic life in the country under Dom Prosper Guéranger after the French Revolution. . . . In 1831 the remaining buildings, which had escaped demolition in the Revolution but were threatened with destruction for want of a buyer, came to the attention of a locally born priest, Prosper Guéranger. Inspired by a vision of a restored monastic life in France, he acquired them for the home of a new Benedictine community. In 1832, it was decided to demolish the buildings, starting with the east wing, which has now disappeared. The Benedictines moved in on 11 July 1833. Against all expectation the new community flourished and in 1837 not only received Papal approval, but was elevated to the rank of an abbey and was to become the mother house of an extensive French Benedictine Congregation, now the Solesmes Congregation, which later became a founding member of the Benedictine Confederation. . . . Since its restoration Solesmes has been dissolved by the French Government no fewer than four times. In 1880, 1882, and 1883 the monks were ejected by force but, receiving hospitality in the neighbourhood, succeeded each time in re-entering their abbey.  Between 1901 and 1922 the monks were forced into exile in England.

Our library is housed in a building specially designed by Dom Paul Bellot – a monk of Solesmes and architect – in 1937, as well as in part of another building constructed in 1896 before the community went into exile. The library includes the scriptorium, which was also built in 1896, although in a very different style to the other buildings. . . . This name is derived from the Latin verb scribere (‘to write’) and refers to the workshop where monks copied out manuscripts before the widespread use of printing. The room at Solesmes known today as the scriptorium has never been used in this way and is a library annex.
Abbaye Saint Pierre Solesmes

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