The Big Names

saint Adelelme (San Lesmes)

Adelelme was born in Loudun, near Poitiers, at an uncertain date, around 1035. Son of a noble family, he was educated as a knight and entered the service of the King of France. But at the death of his parents, the call of faith is such that he decides to sell all his goods and go on a pilgrimage to Rome.
On the way, he stops at Issoire where he meets Saint Robert who recognizes in him the qualities and virtues of holiness and offers him to come and take the habit in his abbey of La Chaise-Dieu. But, faithful to his wish, Adelelme continues his pilgrimage, promising nevertheless to Robert to join him then. After two years of traveling, of prayers and privations, and after having taken refuge at the tomb of St. Peter, he arrives at La Chaise-Dieu so unrecognizable that Robert hardly recognizes him.Friendship was established between the two men and Adelelme became a Benedictine monk in Robert’s abbey. His great piety and his sense of organization make him the master of the novices. At the death of Saint Robert, Durand was elected abbot but he was called to become Bishop of Clermont. The monks then ask Adelelme to become their abbot. He wishes to refuse because of his fragility and his great age, but they insist and he is elected abbot end 1077.

He multiplies the miraculous cures around him and even Queen Mathilde of England, the wife of William the Conqueror. But the burden seems to him too heavy, he who aspires only to prayer and meditation, and he resigns.
Knowing this, the Queen of Spain, Constance, daughter of the Duke of Burgundy and wife of King Alfonso VI, made him come to support their action of reconquest on the Moors. Adelelme would have liked to refuse, but the nobility of the cause urges him to accept. When he arrives near the King of Castile, the latter prepares to besiege Toledo and Adelelme accompanies him. One evening, he announces to the king that it is the moment to cross the Taje and, miraculously, they cross all without hindrance and can thus surprise the sleeping Moors and take the city without damage. In thanks for this miracle, King Alfonso VI donated to Adelelme the chapel and hospital Saint John of Burgos in 1083.
In 1091, he founded a monastery and brought six monks to La Chaise-Dieu and the foundation will be under the aegis of this abbey until 1437. Adeleme has worked hard to relieve the misery of the poor and pilgrims and its His knowledge of military engineering enabled him to realize a whole network of drainage and sanitation of the city of Burgos, removing diseases and creating areas of culture.At his death on January 30, 1097, there were three days of mourning before his body. He is almost immediately canonized and adopted as patron saint of the city of Burgos under the name of San Lesmes.

Jacques de saint Nectaire

Jacques de Saint Nectaire is the last regular abbot of the monastery of La Chaise-Dieu. The family of Saint-Nectaire was well known in Auvergne for its seniority and for the great men it has borne among which the abbot Jacques de saint nectaire, chosen with the almost unanimous consent of the religious to be abbot of La Chaise-Dieu. Jacques de Saint Nectaire is the last regular abbot of the monastery of La Chaise-Dieu. His humility made him refuse for a long time, but seeing that it was the will of God, he did it very well, enriching the abbey with investments, presents, and ornaments for the Church. The Abbé Jacques de Saint Nectaire, from the first years of his prelature, distinguished himself by acts of piety and devotion. He also showed the great zeal he had in preserving regular observance in his first vigor not only in his monastery of La Chaise-Dieu, but also in all his dependencies. One of the principal actions of the abbot Jacques de Saint Nectaire, and who made the abbey illustrious, was to have obtained in the year 1501, privilege of the king Louis XII, to carry for arms of this one, those of Kings of France, quartered with those of Clement VI, Pope. Abbe Jacques de Saint Nectaire, on the other hand, employed the best of his revenues in the embellishment and decoration of his monastery.

In addition to building the cloister of the church and the chapel of the abbots of the monastery of Chanteuges, he had the chapter and part of the cloister or the large refectory of La Chaise-Dieu built, he did, among others, adorn the choir monastic tapestry representing the Bible, in April 1518, on the occasion of the feast of Saint Robert. This illustrated Bible helped the monks to meditate on the Word of God. 11 in number (formerly 18), the hangings are suspended above the stalls. They wear the coat of arms of the abbot (five silver spindles on a blue background) and those of La Chaise-Dieu (red roses and golden lilies). Stretching 65 meters long and about 2 meters high, they come from Flanders. They escaped twice to destruction, in 1562 during the sack of the abbey by the Huguenot troops and the French Revolution, hidden under straw boots. Restored in 1973, they offer to their eyes their rich colors found. On May 23, 2013, all tapestries were taken down for cleaning and restoration. Since July 2019 they have been exhibited in a room dedicated to the site of an old chapel. The liberality of Jacques de Saint Nectaire to his religious and his monastery was quite remarkable. He ruled 27 years and died in 1518.

Clément VI, a building pope

Pierre Roger was born in Rosiers d’Egletons (diocese of Tulle) in 1292 of a family of minor nobility. At the age of 10, he became a novice at La Chaise-Dieu. Destined for monastic life, he is especially noted for his prodigious memory, his ease of expression and the correctness of his judgment. The Abbé de La Chaise-Dieu sent him to study at the Sorbonne and he was made a doctor of theology in 1323. Ordained priest, he is illustrated by his oratorical skills. He was appointed headmaster at the Sorbonne and taught there until 1327. During this period he kept his Casadean connections, having the functions (and revenues) of the prior of Saint-Pantaleon (diocese of Limoges), then of Savigneux ( diocese of Lyon) and Saint-Baudil (diocese of Nîmes).

In 1327, he left the University and began an episcopal career: Bishop of Arras, then of Sens, then Archbishop of Rouen, he was named Cardinal in 1338. At the same time, he held the positions of Minister of Justice and President of the Court of Auditors to King Philip VI of Valois. He was elected Pope in 1342 in Avignon under the name of Clement VI. His pontificate is marked by a theocratic conception of power. He was a sumptuous pope, as evidenced by the buildings of the Palais des Papes in Avignon and the Abbey Church of Saint-Robert La Chaise-Dieu. His friendship with the Emperor Charles IV allowed him to appease the relations between the Empire and the Church. He brought clear support to the King of France in his conflicts with the King of England and maintained in Avignon the seat of the Papacy, while acting as bishop of Rome. He died after a pontificate of 10 years and was buried at La Chaise-Dieu in April 1352.

The Cardinal of Richelieu

The Cardinal of Richelieu succeeds in the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, to Louis de Valois, in 1629. His reign was made illustrious by the introduction of the fathers of Saint Maur in the abbey, for the reform and in order to to return the regular observance of its first vigor, which was done in 1640. This congregation has its particular centralization and each monk can be moved as needed. A very strong impulse is also given to the studies. The monks of Saint Maur, the Maurists, were at the origin of scholarly and historical works very scholarly and voluminous thus justifying once again the expression “a work of Benedictine”.

The Cardinal of Richelieu was anxious to incorporate the Abbey of La Chaise-Dieu to this congregation of which he had been one of the instigators. However, they were not warmly welcomed during their installation. On the death of Cardinal Richelieu in 1642, the monks of Saint-Maur were expelled but returned in 1644 and the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu became a place of study of theology and philosophy for the congregation of Saint Maur. It was for La Chaise-Dieu a spiritual and intellectual renaissance that lasted more than fifty years. From the eighteenth century, there was a general decline of the congregation of Saint Maur because of the Jansenist controversy and in 1790, there were twenty monks at La Chaise-Dieu when the Revolution took possession of the place.

 The Cardinal of Rohan

Louis-René-Edouard de Rohan-Guéméné, born September 25, 1734, abbot of Montmajour, bishop of Canope in partibus and Strasbourg, member of the French Academy, commander of the Orders, succeeded Armand de Rohan-Soubise, in 1756 , and was the last abbot of La Chaise-Dieu. He was exiled from the king’s court following the famous case of the Queen’s necklace … Marie-Antoinette asked the king to offer him a necklace whose value corresponded, for the time, to the chartering of two naval vessels. A swindle was hatched by the Countess de La Motte who made Cardinal de Rohan believe that the queen was instructing him to buy the necklace in her place. The king then suspected the Cardinal to be the lover of the queen …

The story goes that the Cardinal arrived at La Chaise-Dieu accompanied by a woman dressed as a valet and that his manners were not those agreed for an abbot and a bishop, the monks refused to welcome him into their enclosure. So he decided to build a house, stuck to the church of St. Robert, to show all his ecclesiastical authority. During his abbatial he contributed, by his presence of mind, to extinguish a fire which, on July 6, 1786, almost consumed the city of La Chaise-Dieu. He associated himself, at least by his silence and in a surge of ill-considered patriotism, with the deliberation which, on October 24, 1789, chose to send to the hotel of Riom’s coins the silverware of the church, by reserving only the simple necessities of life in order to meet the scarcity of the finances of the kingdom.  Thus began the disappearance of the goods which the abbey had been able to wring from the fire, the plunder and unconscious aliénations.