Holy water of Bec

triciamary

Warwick, Bermuda

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Abbaye Le Bec Hellouin near Brionne, Normandy

I believe this is a stone holy water font which originally came from the Anglican Cathedral of Downpatrick in Ireland. Dating from the XIIth century, it was in use before the disappearance of the Benedictine monastery.

One of the most picturesque spots in the Risle valley is the village and abbey of Le Bec Hellouin.Since 1948, the sleepy village echoes once more to the sound of the monastic bells as the white robed monks go about their daily routine of prayer, contemplation and work.

The original abbey was founded by a Norman knight called Hellouin on the banks of the stream or bec from which the village takes its name. The first abbey was built between 1055-1070 and quickly grew to become one of the great centres of religion and learning in the Christian world. It could boast of having as among its abbots two of the finest intellectuals of the eleventh century, Lanfranc and Saint Anselm. Both of these great religious thinkers were later to become Archbishops of Canterbury. (The connection with Canterbury continues to this day with current archbishops visiting the monastery on retreat.)

The Abbaye de Bec Hellouin was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries in French classical style although the Church tower of Saint Nicolas remains from the 15th century. The monastery was closed down during the French Revolution and the cloisters were used for a time for stabling the horses of one of Napoleon’s cavalry regiments.

Since 1948, the monastery has been lovingly restored by the monks of the Olivetan Benedictine Order.

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