Nestled in a meander of the Loire, the Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire township houses one of the crown jewels of Roman architecture, a remarkable 11th and 12th-century basilica distinguished by a tower and entrance porch adorned with twelve historiated capitals, a monumental portal, and its nave.

Founded around 650 on the land of an ancient Gallo-Roman villa, since 672 the abbey of Fleury has housed the relics of  Saint Benoît, creator of western monasticism and patron saint of Europe. During the 8th century, patronage of the Prince of Apostles was replaced by the patronage of Saint Benoît, an event leading to the rapid extension, prosperity and renown of the abbey, which then became known as Saint-Benoît de Fleury, while the village was subsequently given the name Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire.

During the 9th century, even though Norman invaders had plundered and destroyed the monastery, the Abbaye de Fleury once again began to flourish. Indeed, the 10th and 11th centuries represented the golden age of Fleury in terms of its spiritual, artistic and intellectual renown. In all likelihood, its construction came to an end in 1218.

Several centuries later, the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of Religion wrought havoc on the monastery, disrupting the community’s routines and causing its population  to plummet. The French Revolution entailed its dispersion, and it was only in 1944 that a community of forty monks returned to the premises and reconstructed the Abbaye de Fleury, which is nowadays inhabited by a community of thirty-three monks under the direction of Father Abbé Etienne Ricaud.

In 1947, on the occasion of the fourteenth centenary of the Saint Benoît’s death, the abbey became a basilica. Todays’ visitors are invited to admire the fabulous historiated capitals in the tower and entrance porch, the nave and the choir, the magnificent tiling surrounding the altar and the crypt containing the relics of the patron saint. Not to be missed : the northern portal and its monumental lintel in high relief.



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