An abbey is a complex of buildings used by members of a religious order under the governance of an abbot or abbess. It provides a place for religious activities, work, and housing of Christian monks and nuns.

The concept of the abbey has developed over many centuries from the early monastic ways of religious men and women where they would live isolated from the lay community about them. Religious life in an abbey may be monastic. An abbey may be the home of an enclosed religious order or may be open to visitors. The layout of the church and associated buildings of an abbey often follows a set plan determined by the founding religious order.

Abbeys are often self-sufficient while using any abundance of produce or skill to provide care to the poor and needy, refuge to the persecuted, or education to the young. Some abbeys offer accommodation to people who are seeking spiritual retreat. There are many famous abbeys across Europe.

The cloister of Sénanque Abbey

Monastic origins of the abbey

Ascetics and anchorites

The earliest known Christian monasteries were groups of huts built near the residence of a famous ascetic or other holy person. Disciples wished to be close to their holy man or woman in order to study their doctrine or imitate their way of life.[1]

In the earliest times of Christian monasticism, ascetics would live in social isolation but near a village church. They would subsist whilst donating any excess produce to the poor. However, increasing religious fervor about the ascetic's ways and or persecution of them would drive them further away from their community and further into solitude. For instance, the cells and huts of anchorites (religious recluses) have been found in the deserts of Egypt.[2]

In 312 AD, Anthony the Great retired to the Thebaid region of Egypt to escape the persecution of the Emperor Maximian. Anthony was the best known of the anchorites of his time due to his degree of austerity, sanctity and his powers of exorcism. The deeper he withdrew into the wilderness, the more numerous his disciples became. They refused to be separated from him and built their cells close to him. This became a first true monastic community. Anthony, according to Johann August Wilhelm Neander, inadvertently became the founder of a new mode of living in common, Coenobitism.[3]

Laurae and caenobia

At Tabennae on the Nile, in Upper Egypt, Saint Pachomius laid the foundations for the coenobitical life by arranging everything in an organized manner. He built several monasteries, each with about 1,600 separate cells laid out in lines. These cells formed an encampment where the monks slept and performed some of their manual tasks. There were nearby large halls such as the church, refectory, kitchen, infirmary, and guest house for the monk's common needs. An enclosure protecting all these buildings gave the settlement the appearance of a walled village. This layout, known as the laurae (lanes), became popular throughout Palestine.

As well as the "laurae", communities known as "caenobia" developed. These were monasteries where monks lived a common life together. The monks were not permitted to retire to the cells of a laurae before they had undergone a lengthy period of training. In time, this form of common life superseded that of the older laurae.[1]

In the late 300s AD, Palladius visited the Egyptian monasteries. He described three hundred members of the coenobium of Panopolis. There were fifteen tailors, seven smiths, four carpenters, twelve camel-drivers and fifteen tanners. These people were divided into subgroups, each with its own "oeconomus". A chief steward was at the head of the monastery.

The produce of the monastery was brought to Alexandria for sale. The moneys raised were used to purchase stores for the monastery or were given away as charity. Twice in the year, the superiors of several coenobia met at the chief monastery, under the presidency of an "archimandrite" (the "chief of the fold" from the word, "miandra" (a sheepfold)) in order to make their reports. Chrysostom recorded the workings of a coenobia in the vicinity of Antioch. The monks lived in separate huts ("kalbbia") which formed a religious hamlet on the mountainside. They were subject to an abbot, and observed a common rule.[4]

Great Lavra, Mount Athos

Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos
(Lenoir, who named it Santa Laura)
Abbey 01
A. Gateway
B. Chapels
C. Guesthouse
D. Church
E. Cloister
F. Fountain
G. Refectory
H. Kitchen
I. Monks' cells
K. Storehouses
L. Postern gate
M. Tower

The layout of the monastic coenobium was influenced by a number of factors. These included a need for defence, economy of space, and convenience of access. The layout of buildings became compact and orderly. Larger buildings were erected and defence was provided by strong outside walls. Within the walls, the buildings were arranged around one or more open courts surrounded by cloisters. The usual arrangement for monasteries of the Eastern world is exemplified in the plan of the convent of the Great Lavra at Mount Athos.

With reference to the diagram, right, the convent of the Great Lavra is enclosed within a strong and lofty blank stone wall. The area within the wall is between three and four acres (12,000 and 16,000 m²). The longer side is about 500 feet (150 m) in length. There is only one entrance, which is located on the north side (A), defended by three iron doors. Near the entrance is a large tower (M), a constant feature in the monasteries of the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean area). There is a small postern gate at L.

The enceinte comprises two large open courts, surrounded with buildings connected with cloister galleries of wood or stone. The outer court, which is the larger by far, contains the granaries and storehouses (K), the kitchen (H) and other offices connected with the refectory (G). Immediately adjacent to the gateway is a two-storied guest-house, entered from a cloister (C). The inner court is surrounded by a cloister (EE) from which one enters the monks' cells (II).

In the centre of this court stands the katholikon or conventual church, a square building with an apse of the cruciform domical Byzantine type, approached by a domed narthex. In front of the church stands a marble fountain (F), covered by a dome supported on columns.

Opening from the western side of the cloister, but actually standing in the outer court, is the refectory (G), a large cruciform (cross shaped) building, about 100 feet (30 m) square, decorated within with frescoes of saints. At the upper end is a semicircular recess, similar to the triclinium of the Lateran Palace in Rome, in which is placed the seat of the hegumenos or abbot. This apartment is chiefly used as a meeting place, with the monks usually taking their meals in their separate cells.[4]

Adoption of the Roman villa plan

Monasticism in the West began with the activities of Benedict of Nursia (born 480 AD). Near Nursia, a town in Perugia, Italy, a first abbey was established at Monte Cassino (529 AD).[5] Between 520 and 700 AD, monasteries were built which were spacious and splendid. All the city states of Italy hosted a Benedictine convent as did the cities of England, France and Spain. By 1415 AD, the time of the Council of Constance, 15,070 Benedictine monasteries had been established.

The early Benedictine monasteries, including the first at Monte Cassino, were constructed on the plan of the Roman villa. The layout of the Roman villa was quite consistent throughout the Roman Empire and where possible, the monks reused available villas in sound repair. This was done at Monte Cassino.

However, over time, changes to the common villa lay out occurred. The monks required buildings which suited their religious and day-to-day activities. No overriding specification was demanded of the monks but the similarity of their needs resulted in uniformity of design of abbeys across Europe.[1] Eventually, the buildings of a Benedictine abbey were built in a uniform lay out, modified where necessary, to accommodate local circumstances.[4]

Abbey of St Gall

Abbey st gall 1
The church of the Abbey of St Gall

The plan of the Abbey of Saint Gall (719 AD) indicates the general arrangement of a Benedictine monastery of its day. According to the architect Robert Willis (architect) (1800–1875) the Abbey's lay out is that of a town of individual houses with streets running between them. The abbey was planned in compliance with the Benedictine rule that, if possible, a monastery should be self-contained. For instance, there was a mill, a bakehouse, stables, and cattle stalls.[4] In all, there were thirty-three separate structures; mostly one level wooden buildings.

The Abbey church occupied the centre of a quadrangular area, about 430 feet (130 m) square. On the eastern side of the north transept of the church was the "scriptorium" or writing-room, with a library above.[4]

The church and nearby buildings ranged about the cloister, a court about which there was a covered arcade which allowed sheltered movement between the buildings. The nave of the church was on the north boundary of the cloister.

On the east side of the cloister, on the ground floor, was the "pisalis" or "calefactory". This was a common room, warmed by flues beneath the floor. Above the common room was the dormitory. The dormitory opened onto the cloister and also onto the south transept of the church. This enabled the monks to attend nocturnal services.[5] A passage at the other end of the dormitory lead to the "necessarium" (latrines).

On the south side of the cloister was the refectory. The kitchen, at the west end of the refectory was accessed via an anteroom and a long passage. Nearby were the bake house, brew house and the sleeping-rooms of the servants. The upper story of the refectory was called the "vestiarium" (a room where the ordinary clothes of the monks were stored).

On the western side of the cloister was another two-story building with a cellar on the ground floor and the larder and store-room on the upper floor. Between this building and the church was a parlour for receiving visitors. One door of the parlour led to the cloisters and the other led to the outer part of the Abbey.

Against the outer wall of the church was a school and headmaster's house. The school consisted of a large schoolroom divided in the middle by a screen or partition, and surrounded by fourteen little rooms, the "dwellings of the scholars". The abbott's home was near the school.

To the north of the church and to the right of the main entrance to the Abbey, was a residence for distinguished guests. To the left of the main entrance was a building to house poor travellers and pilgrims. There was also a building to receive visiting monks. These "hospitia" had a large common room or refectory surrounded by bed rooms. Each hospitium had its own brewhouse and bakehouse, and the building for more prestigious travellers had a kitchen and storeroom, with bedrooms for the guests' servants and stables for their horses.[4] The monks of the Abbey lived in a house built against the north wall of the church.

The whole of the southern and western areas of the Abbey were devoted to workshops, stables and farm-buildings including stables, ox-sheds, goatstables, piggeries, and sheep-folds, as well as the servants' and labourers' quarters.

In the eastern part of the Abbey there was a group of buildings representing in layout, two complete miniature monasteries. That is, each had a covered cloister surrounded by the usual buildings such as the church, the refectory, the dormitory and so on. A detached building belonging to each contained a bathroom and a kitchen.

One of the miniature complexes was called the "oblati". These were the buildings for the novices. The other complex was a hospital or infirmary for the care of sick monks. This infirmary complex included a physician's residence, a physic garden, a drug store, and a chamber for the critically ill. There was also a room for bloodletting and purging. The physic garden occupied the north east corner of the Abbey.[4]

In the southern most area of the abbey was the workshop containing utilities for shoemakers, saddlers (or shoemakers, sellarii), cutlers and grinders, trencher-makers, tanners, curriers, fullers, smiths and goldsmiths. The tradesmen's living quarters were at the rear of the workshop. Here, there were also farm buildings, a large granary and threshing-floor, mills, and malthouse. At the south-east corner of the Abbey were hen and duck houses, a poultry-yard, and the dwelling of the keeper. Nearby was the kitchen garden which complemented the physic garden and a cemetery orchard.[4]

Every large monastery had priories. A priory was a smaller structure or entities which depended on the monastery. Some were small monasteries accommodating five or ten monks. Others were no more than a single building serving as residence or a farm offices. The outlying farming establishments belonging to the monastic foundations were known as "villae" or "granges". They were usually staffed by lay-brothers, sometimes under the supervision of a monk.

Benedictine abbeys in England

Shrewsbury Abbey Exterior, Shropshire, UK - Diliff
Shrewsbury Abbey

Many of today's cathedrals in England were originally Benedictine monasteries.[5] These included Canterbury, Chester, Durham, Ely, Gloucester, Norwich, Peterborough, Rochester, Winchester, and Worcester.[6] Shrewsbury Abbey in Shropshire was founded as a Benedictine monastery by the Normans in 1083.

Westminster Abbey

The Great Cloisters, 2012 (3)
Cloisters, Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey was founded in the tenth century by St. Dunstan who established a community of Benedictine monks.[6] The only traces of St. Dunstan's monastery remaining are round arches and massive supporting columns of the undercroft and the Pyx Chamber.[7]

The cloister and buildings lie directly to the south of the church. Parallel to the nave, on the south side of the cloister, was a refectory, with a lavatory at the door.[4] On the eastern side, there was a dormitory, raised on a vaulted substructure and communicating with the south transept and a chapter house (meeting room). A small cloister lay to the south-east of the large cloister. Beyond that was an infirmary with a table hall and a refectory for those who were able to leave their chambers. At the west entrance to the Abbey, there was a house and a small courtyard for the abbott. [4]

St. Mary's Abbey, York

In 1055, St Mary's Abbey, York was built in England's north by the Order of Saint Benedict. It followed the common plan. The entrance to the abbey was through a strong gate on the northern side. Close to the entrance was a chapel. This was for visitors arriving at the Abbey to make their devotions. Near the gate was the hospitium (guest hall). The buildings are completely ruined, but the walls of the nave and the cloisters are still visible on the grounds of the Yorkshire Museum.

The Abbey was surrounded by fortified walls on three sides. The River Ouse bordered the fourth side. The stone walls remain as an excellent example of English abbey walls.[8]

Reforms at the Abbey of Cluny

Cluny Gala Arts et Metiers exterieur 01
Abbey of Cluny in lights

The Abbey of Cluny was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine in 910 AD at Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. The Abbey was built in the Romanesque style. The Abbey was noted for its strict observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. However, reforms resulted in many departures from this precedent. The Cluniac reforms brought focus to the traditions of monastic life, encouraging art and the caring of the poor. The Cluniac reforms quickly spread by the founding of new abbey complexes and also by adoption of the reforms by existing abbeys. By the twelfth century, the Abbey of Cluny was the head of an order consisting of 314 monasteries.[9]

The church at the Abbey was commenced in 1089 AD by St. Hugh, the sixth abbot. It was finished and consecrated by Pope Innocent II around 1132 AD. The church was regarded as one of the wonders of the Middle Ages. At 555 feet (169 m) in length, it was the largest church in Christendom until the completion of St. Peter's Basilica at Rome. The church consisted of five naves, a narthex (ante-church) which was added in 1220 AD, and several towers. Together with the conventual buildings, it covered an area of twenty-five acres.

In the Dechristianization of France during the French Revolution in 1790 AD, the Abbey church was bought by the town and almost entirely destroyed.[9]

English Cluniac houses

Paisley Abbey Interior East
Interior facing east, Paisley Abbey

The first English house of the Cluniac order was built at Lewes, Sussex. It was founded by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey in about 1077 AD. All but one of the Cluniac houses in Britain were known as priories, symbolizing their subordination to the Abbey of Cluny. All the Cluniac houses in England and Scotland were French colonies, governed by French priors who travelled to the Abbey of Cluny to consult or be consulted (unless the abbot of Cluny chose to come to Britain, which happened rarely). The priory at Paisley was an exception. In 1245 AD it was raised to the status of an abbey, answerable only to the Pope.

Abbeys of the Austin Canons

StBotolph'sPriory Colchester
The nave of St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester

The Austin canons were an order of regular clergy within the hierarchy of the Catholic church. They held a position between monks and secular canons. They were known as "Black canons" because of the colour of their habits. In 1105 AD, the first house of the order was established at St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester, Essex.

The canons built very long naves to accommodate large congregations. The choirs were also long. Sometimes, as at Llanthony and Christchurch, Dorset(Twynham), the choir was closed from the aisles. At other abbeys of the order, such as Bolton or Kirkham, there were no aisles. The nave in the northern houses of the order often had only a north aisle (this is the case at Bolton, Brinkburn and Lanercost). The arrangement of the monastic buildings followed the ordinary plan. The prior's lodge was usually attached to the southwest angle of the nave.[4]

The Austin canons' house at Thornton, Lincolnshire had a large and magnificent gatehouse. The upper floors of the gatehouse formed the guest-house. The chapter-house was octagonal in shape.[4]

Augustinian abbeys

The plan of the Abbey of St Augustine's at Bristol (now the Bristol Cathedral) demonstrates the arrangement of the buildings by this order. The plan departs very little from the ordinary Benedictine type.

Bristol Cathedral

Bristol abbey

FIG. 11.--St Augustine's Abbey,
Bristol (Bristol
A. Church.
B. Great cloister.
C. Little cloister.
D. Chapter house.
E. Calefactory.
F. Refectory.
G. Parlour.
H. Kitchen.
I. Kitchen court.
K. Cellars.
L. Abbot's hall.
P. Abbot's gateway.
R. Infirmary.
S. Friars' lodging.
T. King's hall.
V. Guest-house.
W. Abbey gateway.
X. Barns, stables, etc
Y. Lavatory.

Premonstratensians (Norbertians)

The Premonstratensian regular canons, or "White canons", were of an order founded in 1119 AD by Norbert of Xanten. The order was a reformed branch of the Augustinian canons. From a marshy area in the Forest of Coucy in the diocese of Laon, the order spread widely. Even in Norbert's lifetime, the order had built abbeys in Aleppo, Syria and in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Of the Abbey of Saint Samuel, Denys Pringle wrote, "The Premonstatensian abbey of Saint Samuel was a daughter house of Prémontré itself. Its abbot had the status of a suffragan of the patriarch of Jerusalem, with the right to a cross, but not to a mitre nor a ring."[10] It long maintained its rigid austerity, though in later years the abbey grew wealthier, and its members indulged in more frequent luxuries.

Just after 1140 AD, the Premonstratensians were brought to England. Their first settlement was at Newhouse, Lincolnshire, near the Humber tidal estuary. There were as many as thirty-five Premonstratensian abbeys in England. The head abbey in England was at Welbeck but the best preserved are Easby Abbey in Yorkshire, and Bayham Old Abbey in Kent.

The lay out of Easby Abbey is irregular due to its position on the edge of a steep river bank. The cloister is duly placed on the south side of the church, and the chief buildings occupy their usual positions around it. However, the cloister garth (quadrangle), as at Chichester, is not rectangular, and thus, all the surrounding buildings are positioned in an awkward fashion. The church follows the plan adopted by the Austin canons in their northern abbeys, and has only one aisle to the north of the nave, while the choir is long, narrow and without an aisle. Each transept has an aisle to the east, forming three chapels.[4]

The church at Bayham Old Abbey had no aisles in the nave or the choir. The latter terminated in a three-sided apse. The church is remarkable for its extreme narrowness in proportion to its length. While the building is 257 ft (78 m) long, it is not more than 25 ft (7.6 m) wide. Premonstratensian canons did not care to have congregations nor possessions. Therefore, they built their churches in the shape of a long room.[4]

Cistercian abbeys

Cistercian Abbey of Sénanque
Jumièges Abbey, Normandy

The Cistercians, a Benedictine reform group, were established at Cîteaux in 1098 AD by Robert of Molesme, Abbot of Molesme, for the purpose of restoring, as far as possible, the literal observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. La Ferté, Pontigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond were the first four abbeys to follow Cîteaux's example and others followed. The monks of Cîteaux created the well known vineyards of Clos-Vougeot and Romanée in Burgundy.[11]

The Cistercian principle of rigid self-abnegation carried over to the design of the order's churches and buildings. The defining architectural characteristic of the Cistercian abbeys was extreme simplicity and plainness. Only a single, central tower was permitted, and that was usually very low. Unnecessary pinnacles and turrets were prohibited. The triforium was omitted. The windows were usually plain and undivided, and it was forbidden to decorate them with stained glass. All needless ornament was proscribed. The crosses were made of wood and the candlesticks of iron.[4]

The same principle governed the choice of site for Cistercian abbeys in that a most dismal site might be improved by the building of an abbey. The Cistercian monasteries were founded in deep, well-watered valleys, always standing at a stream's edge. The building might extend over the water as is the case at Fountains Abbey. These valleys, now rich and productive, had a very different appearance when the brethren first chose them as their place of retreat. Wide swamps, deep morasses, tangled thickets, and wild, impassable forests were their prevailing features.[4] Clara Vallis of St Bernard, now the "bright valley" was originally, the "Valley of Wormwood". It was an infamous den of robbers.[12]

See also:


The plan of a Coptic Orthodox monastery, from Lenoir, shows a church of three aisles, with cellular apses, and two ranges of cells on either side of an oblong gallery.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Birt 1907
  2. ^ædia_Britannica,_Ninth_Edition,_v._1.djvu/26
  3. ^ Venables 1911 cites Church History, iii. p. 316, Clark's translation.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Venables 1911.
  5. ^ a b c "Abbey". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  6. ^ a b Newcomb, Rexford (1997). "Abbey". In Johnston, Bernard (ed.). Collier's Encyclopedia. I A to Ameland (First ed.). New York, NY: P.F. Collier. pp. 8–11.
  7. ^ Abbey history Archived 2014-02-14 at Wikiwix Westminster Abbey organisation website.
  8. ^ St.Mary's Abbey Archived May 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine York History organisation.
  9. ^ a b "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Congregation of Cluny". Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  10. ^ Pringle, Denys, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: L-Z (excluding Tyre), Cambridge University Press, New York, 1998, p.86
  11. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Abbey of Citeaux". Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  12. ^ Venables 1911 cites Milman's Lat. Christ. vol. iii. p. 335.


  • Birt, Henry Norbert (1907). "Abbey". In Herbermann, Charles G. (ed.). The Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company.
  • Klein, Ernest, ed. (1987). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of the English Language. Jerusalem, Israel: Carta. ISBN 965-220-093-X. LCCN 88140194.
  • Klein, Ernest, ed. (1966). "Abbey". A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language: Dealing With the Origin of Words and Their Sense Development thus Illustrating the History of Civilization and Culture. I: A-K. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. LCCN 65013229.

External links

Abbey Road

Abbey Road is the eleventh studio album by English rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. The recording sessions for the album were the last in which all four Beatles participated. Although Let It Be was the final album that the Beatles completed before the band's dissolution in April 1970, most of the album had been recorded before the Abbey Road sessions began. A two-sided hit single from the album, "Something" backed with "Come Together", released in October, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.

Abbey Road is a rock album that incorporates genres such as blues, pop, and progressive rock, and it makes prominent use of the Moog synthesizer and the Leslie speaker. Side two contains a medley of song fragments edited together to form a single piece. The album was recorded amid a more enjoyable atmosphere than the Get Back/Let It Be sessions earlier in the year, but there were still frequent disagreements within the band. John Lennon had privately left the group by the time the album was released and McCartney publicly quit the following year.

Although Abbey Road was an immediate commercial success and reached  No. 1 in the UK and US, it initially received mixed reviews, some critics describing its music as inauthentic and bemoaning the production's artificial effects. Over time, the album became viewed as among the Beatles' best and many critics have ranked it as one of the greatest albums of all time. In particular, George Harrison's contributions, "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun", are considered to be among the best songs he wrote for the group. The album's cover, which features the four band members walking across a zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios, has become one of the most famous and imitated images in the history of popular music.

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road Studios (formerly known as EMI Recording Studios) is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, which owned it until Universal Music took control of part of EMI in 2013.

Abbey Road Studios is most notable as being the 1960s' venue for innovative recording techniques adopted by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Hollies, as well as others. One of its earliest world-famous-artist clients was Paul Robeson, who recorded there in December 1931 and went on to record many of his best-known songs there.

Towards the end of 2009, the studio came under threat of sale to property developers. However, the British Government protected the site, granting it English Heritage Grade II listed status in 2010, thereby preserving the building from any major alterations.

Avril Lavigne

Avril Ramona Lavigne (; French: [avʁil laviɲ]; born September 27, 1984) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actress. By the age of 15, she had appeared on stage with Shania Twain and by 16, she had signed a two-album recording contract with Arista Records worth more than $2 million.

Her debut studio album, Let Go (2002), emphasized a skate punk persona in which she has since been often referred by critics and music publications as the "Pop Punk Queen", due to her achievement and impact in the industry. Lavigne is considered a key musician in the development of pop punk music, since she paved the way for female-driven, punk-influenced pop music. Since her professional debut, Lavigne has sold more than 40 million albums and over 50 million singles worldwide, making her the third-best-selling Canadian female artist of all time, behind Celine Dion and Shania Twain.Lavigne's breakthrough single, "Complicated", reached number one in several countries worldwide and led to Lavigne becoming the youngest female soloist to have a number-one album in the United Kingdom. Her second studio album, Under My Skin (2004), became Lavigne's first album to reach the top of the Billboard 200 chart in the United States, going on to sell 10 million copies worldwide. The Best Damn Thing (2007), Lavigne's third studio album, reached number one in seven countries worldwide and saw the international success of its lead single "Girlfriend", which became her first single to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Her fourth and fifth studio albums, Goodbye Lullaby (2011) and Avril Lavigne (2013), saw continued commercial success and were both certified gold in Canada, the United States, and other territories.In addition to music, Lavigne voiced Heather, a Virginia opossum, in the animated film Over the Hedge (2006), and made her screen acting debut in Fast Food Nation (2006). In 2008, Lavigne introduced her clothing line, Abbey Dawn, and in 2009, she released her first perfume, Black Star, which was followed by Forbidden Rose in 2010, and Wild Rose in 2011. Lavigne has been married twice: to Deryck Whibley from 2006 to 2010, and Chad Kroeger from 2013 to 2015.

Basilica of Saint-Denis

The Basilica of Saint-Denis (French: Basilique royale de Saint-Denis, or simply Basilique Saint-Denis) is a large medieval abbey church in the city of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The building is of singular importance historically and architecturally as its choir, completed in 1144, shows the first use of all of the elements of Gothic architecture.

The site originated as a Gallo-Roman cemetery in late Roman times. The archeological remains still lie beneath the cathedral; the people buried there seem to have had a faith that was a mix of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs and practices. Around 475 St. Genevieve purchased some land and built Saint-Denys de la Chapelle. In 636 on the orders of Dagobert I the relics of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, were reinterred in the basilica. The relics of St-Denis, which had been transferred to the parish church of the town in 1795, were brought back again to the abbey in 1819.The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries. (It was not used for the coronations of kings, that function being reserved for the Cathedral of Reims; however, French Queens were commonly crowned there.) "Saint-Denis" soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex.

In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building. The basilica's 13th-century nave is the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, and provided an architectural model for many medieval cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, Germany, England and a great many other countries.

The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. Although known as the "Basilica of St Denis", the cathedral has not been granted the title of Minor Basilica by the Vatican.


The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict (Latin: Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a monastic Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also sometimes called the Black Monks, in reference to the colour of the members' religious habits.

Despite being called an order, the Benedictines do not operate under a single hierarchy but are instead organised as a collection of independent monastic communities, with each community (monastery, priory or abbey) within the order maintaining its own autonomy. Unlike other religious orders, the Benedictines do not have a superior general or motherhouse with universal jurisdiction. Instead, the order is represented internationally by the Benedictine Confederation, an organisation that was set up in 1893 to represent the order's shared interests.


The Cistercians (), officially the Order of Cistercians (Latin: (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist), are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also known as Bernardines, after the highly influential St. Bernard of Clairvaux (though that term is also used of the Franciscan Order in Poland and Lithuania); or as White Monks, in reference to the colour of the "cuccula" or white choir robe worn by the Cistercians over their habits, as opposed to the black cuccula worn by Benedictine monks.

The term Cistercian (French Cistercien), derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the village of Cîteaux, near Dijon in eastern France. It was in this village that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme founded Cîteaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. The best known of them were Robert of Molesme, Alberic of Cîteaux and the English monk Stephen Harding, who were the first three abbots. Bernard of Clairvaux entered the monastery in the early 1110s with 30 companions and helped the rapid proliferation of the order. By the end of the 12th century, the order had spread throughout France and into England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to literal observance of the Rule of St Benedict. Rejecting the developments the Benedictines had undergone, the monks tried to replicate monastic life as it had been in Saint Benedict's time; indeed in various points they went beyond it in austerity. The most striking feature in the reform was the return to manual labour, especially agricultural work in the fields, a special characteristic of Cistercian life. The Cistercians also made major contributions to culture and technology in medieval Europe: Cistercian architecture is considered one of the most beautiful styles of medieval architecture; and the Cistercians were the main force of technological diffusion in fields such as agriculture, hydraulic engineering, and metallurgy.

The original emphasis of Cistercian life was on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and many abbeys have traditionally supported themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ales. Over the centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of many monasteries. A reform movement seeking a simpler lifestyle began in 17th-century France at La Trappe Abbey, and became known as the Trappists. The Trappists were eventually consolidated in 1892 into a new order called the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Latin: Ordo Cisterciensis Strictioris Observantiae), abbreviated as OCSO. The Cistercians who did not observe these reforms and remained within the Order of Cistercians and are sometimes called the Cistercians of the Common Observance when distinguishing them from the Trappists.

Cluny Abbey

Cluny Abbey (French: [klyni]; formerly also Cluni, or Clugny) is a former Benedictine monastery in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire, France. It was dedicated to St Peter.

The abbey was constructed in the Romanesque architectural style, with three churches built in succession from the 4th to the early 12th centuries. The earliest basilica was the world's largest church until the St. Peter's Basilica construction began in Rome.Cluny was founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine in 910. He nominated Berno as the first Abbot of Cluny, subject only to Pope Sergius III. The abbey was notable for its stricter adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict, whereby Cluny became acknowledged as the leader of western monasticism. The establishment of the Benedictine Order was a keystone to the stability of European society that was achieved in the 11th century. In 1790 during the French Revolution, the abbey was sacked and mostly destroyed, with only a small part of the Abbey surviving.

Starting around 1334, the Abbots of Cluny maintained a townhouse in Paris known as the Hôtel de Cluny, which has been a public museum since 1843. Apart from the name, it no longer possesses anything originally connected with Cluny.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a British historical period drama television series set in the early 20th century, created by Julian Fellowes. The series first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and in the United States on PBS, which supported production of the series as part of its Masterpiece Classic anthology, on 9 January 2011.

The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; and the British general election of 1923, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints towards the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after two series). It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited.On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. A film adaptation, serving as a continuation of the series, was confirmed on 13 July 2018.

Gothic architecture

Gothic architecture (latin : francigenum opus) is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Its most prominent features included the use of the rib vault and the flying buttress, which allowed the weight of the roof to be counterbalanced by buttresses outside the building, giving greater height and more space for windows. Another important feature was the extensive use of stained glass, and the rose window, to bring light and color to the interior. Another feature was the use of realistic statuary on the exterior, particularly over the portals, to illustrate biblical stories for the largely illiterate parishioners. These technologies had all existed in Romanesque architecture, but they were used in more innovative ways and more extensively in Gothic architecture to make buildings taller, lighter, and stronger. Some key architectural features, such as the pointed arch, and the rib vault, were adopted from outside Europe, probably deriving from Islamic architecture.The first notable example is generally considered to be the Abbey of Saint-Denis, near Paris, whose choir and facade were reconstructed with Gothic features. The choir was completed in 1144. The style also appeared in some civic architecture in northern Europe.

Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey is a former abbey, now ruined, in Abbey Wood, in the London Borough of Bexley, southeast London, England. It is a scheduled ancient monument and the adjacent Lesnes Abbey Woods are a Local Nature Reserve. Part of the wood is the Abbey Wood SSSI, a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest which is an important site for early Tertiary fossils.

Lesnes Abbey Woods

Lesnes Abbey Woods, sometimes known as Abbey Wood, is an area of ancient woodland in southeast London, England. It is located near to, and named after, the ruined Lesnes Abbey in the London Borough of Bexley and gives its name to the Abbey Wood district. The woods are adjacent to Bostall Woods.

The woods have several features dating back to the Bronze Age and a fine display of wild bluebells and daffodils in the Spring. The abbey kept fishponds which were fed by a small stream running down through the woods, and these are still visible today though the water level is often low.

Local community group Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers run practical conservation events to help manage the woodland. They are a registered environmental conservation charity run by local people. The charity was started in 1994, and works closely with Bexley Council who also provide the group with support, to protect and enhance the native wildlife and the important wildlife habitats of Lesnes Abbey Wood. Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers objectives include:

To conserve and maintain for the public benefit Lesnes Abbey Wood and its local environment.

To advance public education in the principles and practices of nature conservation, and the archaeological and geological interest of Lesnes Abbey Wood and its environments.LACV is a community group which is open to all ages and abilities and works on a varied range of practical conservation tasks throughout the year. The group's conservation tasks include hedge laying, coppicing, fence repair, pond restoration, glade creation, tree planting and heath land restoration. The group also does various wildlife surveys in order to monitor the local native wildlife.

Lesnes Abbey Woods is a Local Nature Reserve and includes the Abbey Wood geological Site of Special Scientific Interest, an important site for early Tertiary fossils. Members of the public can dig for fossils in a small area called the Fossil Bank with the permission of the Lesnes Abbey ranger.


Le Mont-Saint-Michel (pronounced [mɔ̃ sɛ̃ mi.ʃɛl]; Norman: Mont Saint Miché, English: Saint Michael's Mount) is an island and mainland commune in Normandy, France.

The island is located about one kilometer (0.6 miles) off the country's northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches and is 7 hectares (17 acres) in area. The mainland part of the commune is 393 hectares (971 acres) in area so that the total surface of the commune is 400 hectares (988 acres).As of 2015, the island has a population of 50.The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it: on top, God, the abbey and monastery; below, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.

The commune's position—on an island just a few hundred metres from land—made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants. The Mont remained unconquered during the Hundred Years' War; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. The reverse benefits of its natural defence were not lost on Louis XI, who turned the Mont into a prison. Thereafter the abbey began to be used regularly as a jail during the Ancien Régime.

One of France's most recognisable landmarks, visited by more than 3 million people each year, the Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Over 60 buildings within the commune are protected in France as monuments historiques.

Monte Cassino

Monte Cassino (sometimes written Montecassino) is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of Rome, in the Latin Valley, Italy, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. Site of the Roman town of Casinum, it is best known for its abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order, having been established by Benedict of Nursia himself around 529. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed.

The first monastery on Monte Cassino was sacked by the invading Lombards around 570 and abandoned. Of the first monastery almost nothing is known. The second monastery was established by Petronax of Brescia around 718, at the suggestion of Pope Gregory II and with the support of the Lombard Duke Romuald II of Benevento. It was directly subject to the pope and many monasteries in Italy were under its authority. In 883 the monastery was sacked by Saracens and abandoned again. The community of monks resided first at Teano and then from 914 at Capua before the monastery was rebuilt in 949. During the period of exile, the Cluniac Reforms were introduced into the community.

The 11th and 12th centuries were the abbey's golden age. It acquired a large secular territory around Monte Cassino, the so-called Terra Sancti Benedicti ("Land of Saint Benedict"), which it heavily fortified with castles. It maintained good relations with the Eastern Church, even receiving patronage from Byzantine emperors. It encouraged fine art and craftsmanship by employing Byzantine and even Saracen artisans. In 1057, Pope Victor II recognised the abbot of Monte Cassino as having precedence over all other abbots. Many monks rose to become bishops and cardinals, and three popes were drawn from the abbey: Stephen IX (1057–58), Victor III (1086–87) and Gelasius II (1118–19). During this period the monastery's chronicle was written by two of its own, Cardinal Leo of Ostia and Peter the Deacon (who also compiled the cartulary).

By the 13th century, the monastery's decline had set in. In 1239, the Emperor Frederick II garrisoned troops in it during his war with the Papacy. In 1322, Pope John XXII elevated the abbey into a bishopric but this was suppressed in 1367. The buildings were destroyed by an earthquake in 1349, and in 1369 Pope Urban V demanded a contribution from all Benedictine monasteries to fund the rebuilding. In 1454 the abbey was placed in commendam and in 1504 was made subject to the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua.

In 1799, Monte Cassino was sacked again by French troops during the French Revolutionary Wars. The abbey was dissolved by the Italian government in 1866. The building became a national monument with the monks as custodians of its treasures. In 1944 during World War II it was the site of the Battle of Monte Cassino and the building was destroyed by Allied bombing. It was rebuilt after the war.

After the reforms of the Second Vatican Council the monastery was one of the few remaining territorial abbeys within the Catholic Church. On 23 October 2014, Pope Francis applied the norms of the motu proprio Ecclesia Catholica of Paul VI (1976) to the abbey, removing from its jurisdiction all 53 parishes and reducing its spiritual jurisdiction to the abbey itself—while retaining its status as a territorial abbey. The former territory of the Abbey, except the land on which the abbey church and monastery sit, was transferred to the diocese of Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo.

Oakville, Ontario

Oakville is a suburban town in southern Ontario, located in Halton Region on Lake Ontario halfway between Toronto and Hamilton, and is part of the Greater Toronto Area, one of the most densely populated areas of Canada. The 2016 census reported a population of 193,832.


The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as the Premonstratensians, the Norbertines and, in Britain and Ireland, as the White Canons (from the colour of their habit), are a religious order of Canons regular of the Catholic Church founded in Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten, who later became Archbishop of Magdeburg. Premonstratensians are designated by O.Praem. (Ordo Praemonstratensis) following their name.

Norbert was a friend of Bernard of Clairvaux and so was largely influenced by the Cistercian ideals as to both the manner of life and the government of his order. As the Premonstratensians are not monks but Canons Regular, their work often involves preaching and the exercising of pastoral ministry; they frequently serve in parishes close to their abbeys or priories.

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral, sometimes called the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, and referred to locally as "the Abbey", is a Church of England cathedral in St Albans, England. Much of its architecture dates from Norman times. It ceased to be an abbey in the 16th century and became a cathedral in 1877. Although legally a cathedral church, it differs in certain particulars from most other cathedrals in England: it is also used as a parish church, of which the dean is rector with the same powers, responsibilities and duties as that of any other parish. At 85 metres long, it has the longest nave of any cathedral in England.Probably founded in the 8th century, the present building is Norman or Romanesque architecture of the 11th century, with Gothic and 19th-century additions.


The Trappists, officially the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Latin: Ordo Cisterciensis Strictioris Observantiae, abbreviated as OCSO), are a Catholic religious order of cloistered monastics that branched off from the Cistercians. They follow the Rule of Saint Benedict and have communities of both monks and nuns that are referred to as Trappists and Trappistines, respectively. They are named after La Trappe Abbey, the monastery from which the movement and religious order originated.


Westminster is an area in central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.

Historically the area lay within St Margaret's parish, City & Liberty of Westminster, Middlesex.

The name Westminster (Old English: Westmynstre) originated from the informal description of the abbey church and royal peculiar of St Peter's (Westminster Abbey), literally West of the City of London (indeed, until the Reformation there was a reference to the 'East Minster' at Minories (Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate) east of the City). The abbey was part of the royal palace that had been created here by Edward the Confessor. It has been the home of the permanent institutions of England's government continuously since about 1200 (High Middle Ages' Plantagenet times), and from 1707 the British Government — formally titled Her Majesty's Government.

In a government context, Westminster often refers to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, located in the UNESCO World Heritage Palace of Westminster — also known as the Houses of Parliament. The closest tube stations are Westminster and St James's Park, on the Jubilee, Circle, and District lines.

The area is the centre of Her Majesty's Government, with Parliament in the Palace of Westminster and most of the major Government ministries known as Whitehall, itself the site of the royal palace that replaced that at Westminster.

Within the area is Westminster School, a major public school which grew out of the Abbey, and the University of Westminster, attended by over 20,000 students. Bounding Westminster to the north is Green Park, a Royal Park of London.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster, London, England, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom's most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English and, later, British monarchs. The building itself was a Benedictine monastic church until the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Between 1540 and 1556, the abbey had the status of a cathedral. Since 1560, the building is no longer an abbey or a cathedral, having instead the status of a Church of England "Royal Peculiar"—a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

According to a tradition first reported by Sulcard in about 1080, a church was founded at the site (then known as Thorn Ey (Thorn Island)) in the seventh century, at the time of Mellitus, a Bishop of London. Construction of the present church began in 1245, on the orders of King Henry III.Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey. There have been 16 royal weddings at the abbey since 1100. As the burial site of more than 3,300 persons, usually of predominant prominence in British history (including at least sixteen monarchs, eight Prime Ministers, poet laureates, actors, scientists, and military leaders, and the Unknown Warrior), Westminster Abbey is sometimes described as 'Britain's Valhalla', after the iconic burial hall of Norse mythology.


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