Saint-Vanne Abbey (Verdun)

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The preserved tower of the Saint-Vanne Abbey

The Saint-Vanne Abbey ( Sanctus Vitonus ) was a Benedictine monastery in Verdun . The abbey , which stood within what is now the Citadel of Verdun, was the starting point for the Benedictine reforms after the Council of Trent in the 17th century .


The abbey was founded in 952 and was consecrated to Saint Vanne ( Vitonus ), Bishop of Verdun in the 5th century. The monastery had its most significant time in the following 11th century, especially under Abbot Richard (1005-1046), who had previously been a canon in Reims , made Saint-Vanne a spiritual center in Lorraine and also implemented the monastic reform of Gorze . The investiture controversy became a hindrance to the further development of the monastery, when the monks sided with the Pope while the bishop sided with the emperor and they had to leave the monastery as a result.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Saint-Vanne again became an important abbey and, as a monastery independent of Cluny and Cîteaux, retained a notable influence in the region. In the 15th century, however, the abbey was subordinated to the government by commander abbots.

In 1552 Verdun and with it the abbey fell to France ( Treaty of Chambord ), shortly afterwards the Huguenot Wars began , at the end of which (1598) Saint-Vanne was ruined. The restoration of the monastery was only achieved by Prior Didier de la Cour (1550–1623), who initiated the Congrégation de Saint-Vanne et Saint-Hydulphe ( Vannists ) founded in 1604 , to which 48 mainly Alsatian and Lorraine monasteries such as Moyenmoutier , Senones , Munster and Luxeuil should belong, and their mother monastery was Saint-Vanne.

As early as 1554, King Heinrich II ordered the construction of a citadel in Verdun, the work began but was not completed. From 1624, instead of the walls of the abbey, the citadel of the current border town of Verdun was completed, the medieval towers of the monastery were expanded and made part of the fortress.

The Saint-Vanne Abbey was dissolved as a result of the French Revolution in 1791. With the abolition of the abbey and its associated monasteries, the Congregation of Saint-Vanne also dissolved.

The buildings were almost completely demolished in 1830. The only remainder is the Tour Saint-Vanne within the citadel of Verdun, which was classified as a Monument historique in 1920 .




  1. Jeremias Schröder : Nobody is an island. Monasteries between autonomy and networking . In: Erbe und Einsatz , Vol. 95 (2019), pp. 32–44, here p. 42.
  2. Saint-Vanne in the Base Mérimée of the French Ministry of Culture (French)