History of Pradines Abbey
The “father” of monastic life in the West, and especially of Benedictine life, was born in about 480 in Nursia, in the South of Italy. When still a young man, Benedict left behind the student life begun in Rome and retired to the solitude of a cave in Subiaco with the desire to “please God alone”. He fitted into the Christian monastic tradition born in Egypt as early as the beginning of the 4th century. Purified and transformed by this radical choice, he began three years later, with a few disciples, a community life. Then, he founded a monastery at Monte Cassino.
From this mountain with vast horizons, his community opened up to the needs of the poor and to seekers after God. He wrote a rule interwoven with Holy Scripture, “the Monks’ Rule”, the fruit of his experience. Through its human and spiritual wisdom, this Rule spread in the Mediterranean basin and even beyond, and it was to travel down the ages.
Duchy of Savoy, where Thérèse de Bavoz came from originally
|In the 7th century, it was adopted by the Abbaye Saint-Pierre in Lyon. It was there that Thérèse de Bavoz (1768-1838), our founder, born in Billième in the Duchy of Savoy, was to enter in 1784 at the age of 16. In 1792, the abbey was closed by the revolutionary laws.|
True to her vocation, Thérèse refused to take the constitutional oath and lived, with a few sisters, a clandestine life in Lyon. Arrested, she was held in several prisons during the Terror.
In 1795, she responded to the request of a non-juring priest to go into the teaching of children. She then entered the clandestine movement in Sainte-Agathe-en-Donzy, in the Forez region, and formed, with a few companions, an austere community, suspected by the civilian authorities. The strength of her faith enabled her to get through many trials including the revolutionary turmoil.
The rue des Trois Maries (Three Marys Street)
|Thanks to the Consulate, the community and its school moved into the dilapidated château de Pradines. It was difficult at first because monastic life was misunderstood both by the religious and civilian authorities.|
Only teaching or hospital communities were authorised. Thérèse was to spend ten very painful years, until Cardinal Fesch, archbishop of Lyon, finally authorised her to realise her project of living a Benedictine life.
Thus it was that by the strength of her charisma, Thérèse succeeded, in 1818, in founding our community. Trusting in “the grace of renewal attached by God to the Order of St Benedict”, she encouraged the rebirth of monastic life at La Rochette (Lyon diocese) and at Notre-Dame de Jouarre (Meaux diocese), where cloistered nuns persevered discretely during this revolutionary period. Other expansions together with help provided to various communities were to follow, until that day in 1960 when the Bishop of Bouaké was to call us for a foundation in the Ivory Coast.