Fontevrault Order of

Fontevrault Order Of

(Ordo Frontis Ebraldi), a monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded at the close of the 11th century by Robert of Arbrissel, SEE ARBRISSEL, who in the forest of Craon united a number of hermits under the rule of St. Augustine. The number of members rapidly increased, and Arbrissel had to establish several convents for men and women. The latter were divided into three. different establishments, namely, 1 (Le Grand Mou tier), for virgins and widows; 2 (St. Lazarus), for leprous and other sick people; 3 (St Magdalen), for fallen women who wished to reform. The whole order was devoted to the glorification of the Virgin Mary, and the men of the order were placed under the supreme jurisdiction of the abbess of Fontevrault, who became the general of the whole order. Tersende, a relative of the duke of Bretagne, was the first abbess; Petronella, baroness of Chemillee, her assistant. The order was confirmed by pope Paschal II (in 1106, and again in 1113). After the death of the founder, the number of convents gradually rose to about sixty, all of which, with the exception of a few in Spain and England, were in France. The history of the order presents no facts of importance; it soon degenerated to an even higher degree than the majority of the mediaeval orders. Attempts to reform it were made by the abbesses Maria, of Bretagne (1477), Renate of Bourbon (1507), and Antoinette of Orleans (1571 to 1608), but they had no lasting results. The whole order perished during the French Revolution; the last abbess, Julie Sophie Charlotte de Pardaillan, died in Paris in 1799. No attempt has since been made to revive it. — Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen Lex. 4:109; Helyot (ed. Migne), Ordres Religieux, s.v.; Honore Niquet, Hist. de l'Ordre de Font. (Angres, 1586). (A.J.S.) .

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