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HomeArticleFrench Monastery Survives War & Famine After 885 Years – What The Monks Do Now is Amazing

French Monastery Survives War & Famine After 885 Years – What The Monks Do Now is Amazing

French Monastery Survives War & Famine After 885 Years – What The Monks Do Now is Amazing

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by Côme Besse – 

Located in southeastern France, Notre-Dame d’Aiguebelle Abbey is a French Trappist abbey founded in 1137. Today, the community consists of 19 monks who pray and work together.

Let’s look at the abbey’s history and and learn a little about the monks’ products.


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Brief history of Aiguebelle

To completely understand the abbey, we need to take a look at its history.

The monks of Morimond founded the Abbey of Aiguebelle in 1137, in an isolated valley at the confluence of three streams, hence, the name Aiguebelle, ‘Aquabella’, meaning “beautiful waters” in French.

The 12th century was beneficial for the abbey, since the surrounding lords supported it, and it owned a lot of land. But from the 14th century on, as with many monasteries, the trials and tribulations became more and more frequent.

The Hundred Years’ War, the Black Death, and a drop in vocations followed one another. With the commendation system, which developed in 16th-century France, a commendatory abbot (i.e. a layman or clergyman) directed the community from a distance and received most of the income.

The king appointed these abbots, and did not always care about the monks’ needs. This was a difficult period for the abbey!

During the Revolution, the monks were driven out of their homes. In 1791, there were only three left, and they were eventually expelled in turn, when the Abbey of Aiguebelle became national property.

Fortunately, however, in 1825, Trappist monks returned to Aiguebelle and revived it.

From then on, the abbey developed very quickly.

In 1850, there were already 233 monks! In the wake of this, there were many foundations (Algeria, Ardèche, Gers, Ain, Jura and Cameroon at Koutaba Abbey) – a sign of the community’s dynamism.


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The Trappist monks of Aiguebelle Abbey

Today, 19 Cistercian monks of the strict observance (“Trappists”) live in Notre-Dame d’Aiguebelle Abbey, according to the rule of Saint Benedict, “Ora et labora” (Pray and work).

For their prayer life, the brothers meet in their church eight times per day. First, at 3:30 a.m. for the Vigils.

For their work, they make natural products in their workshops, two of which are renowned for their benefits:

● Alexion d’Aiguebelle: a non-alcohol tonic drink with 52 plants inside
● Aiguebelle Balm: a massage balm with essential oils

They also offer herbal teas and a whole range of condiments, such as Provencal herbs!

And finally, of course, the brothers of Aiguebelle welcome many visitors, who come to recharge their batteries, and therefore, have a real hotel!


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The Alexion, or the monastic ‘red-bull’

Invented by Dom Alexis (from which it takes its name), Alexion is a non-alcoholic energy and tonic drink containing fifty-two plants.

In addition to a taste that often pleases, Alexion is naturally rich in mineral salts and vitamins C (thanks to lemon, rosehip, blackcurrant and ginseng) and B1, which makes it good for your health!

Indeed, if some people enjoy it as an aperitif, it would seem Alexion is even more appropriate for minor bouts of fatigue and overwork. In particular, here are some of the benefits that are attributed to it:

● Allows the liver to function properly
● Promotes good digestion
● Helps to concentrate
● Participates in the recovery and general balance of the body

Of course, like many things the monks invent, the recipe is top secret. It is therefore impossible to tell you with absolute precision the stages of production.


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How visit Aiguebelle Abbey

To enjoy the good products of the monks at Aiguebelle Abbey, visit the monastery or the online shop.

Say a prayer for these wonderful monks! 🙏



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