Saint-Vaast Abbey

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Aerial view

The Abbey of Saint-Vaast was founded in 667 on the hill La Madeleine near Arras in northern France , to which the later canonized Vaast used to retreat. The abbey submitted to the Benedictine rule and became the nucleus of the town that grew around it.


According to legend, Vaast (Latin: Vedastus, Vedastes) came to Arras after he had converted King Clovis I , where the city and church were in complete neglect. Vaast was cleaning the inside of the church when suddenly residents of the town called him for help because a bear was killing people and cattle. According to legend, Vaast ordered the beast to leave the place in the name of God. The wild bear became tame , withdrew, and was never seen again.

As thanks for God's help, Vaast restored the church with his disciples and came daily to pray in a chapel that he had built in the place where the miracle had occurred. Vaast died in 540 and was buried in the restored church.


A century later, Saint Géry granted the deceased's last wish and had his bones transferred to the chapel, which then became the destination of many pilgrims. A community of monks who settled here and submitted to the rule of St. Benedict of Nursia became the nucleus of the abbey. The Frankish King Theuderich III. († 691) was buried in the church. In 783 the monastery burned down; Charlemagne ordered its restoration. Three adjacent churches were built and the largest was consecrated in the name of Saint-Vaast.

In the early Middle Ages (9th / 10th centuries) the Annales Vedastini were written in the abbey .

In the 18th century, Vigor de Briois and Cardinal Rohan , Commendatarabbot of Saint-Vaast, carried out the restoration of the abbey, which had now fallen into disrepair. Since the old cathedral of Arras, Notre-Dame, also fell into disrepair, a decree by Napoléon Bonaparte made the abbey church available to the bishop of Arras , Hugues-Robert-Jean-Charles de La Tour d'Auvergne Lauragais, as the cathedral of Arras . The church, spared by the French Revolution , was destroyed in the battle for the city during the First World War in July 1915 and later rebuilt identically. Saint-Vaast Abbey is now considered the largest ensemble of religious architecture of the 18th century.

The art museum and media library are now housed in the abbey.

Important abbots and lay abbots

Web links

Commons : Saint-Vaast Abbey  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 50 ° 17 ′ 30.1 ″  N , 2 ° 46 ′ 23 ″  E