Last modified: 2003-12-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: yvelines | saint-lambert | port-royal |
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by Ivan Sache
Saint-Lambert is a village located in the green valley of Chevreuse, south-west of Paris. In 1985, 19 municipalities joined the Parc Naturel Régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse (Regional Natural Park of the Upper Valley of Chevreuse), in order to protect the area agasint anarchic urbanization.
The churchyard of Saint-Lambert, built near the Romanesque village church, is a tribute to human beings victims of intolerance.
A stone cross in the cemetery bears as its only sign A la personne humaine (To the human being). This cross was built in 1944 as a tribute to the victims of the wars of all conditions and religions.
The cemetery also hosts the common grave in which the remains of
the victims of Louis XIV's religious intolerance were thrown.
The abbey of Porrois (Port-Royal), whose remains are now located in the municipality of Magny-les-Hameaux, was founded in the Middle Ages in a place where leeks (Latin, porrus; French, poireau) were grown. When placed under royal patronage, the name of the abbey was changed to Portus Regius, Port-Royal.
The women's Cistercian abbey of Port-Royal was created in 1204. A few centuries later, St. Bernard's strict rule was no longer in effect. The ten sisters and the six novices who lived in the abbey were more famous for society life than for piety and even celebrated the carnival. In 1602, mother Angélique Arnaud, officially aged 11 but really 5, was appointed abbess of Port-Royal. In 1609, she hardly recovered from a serious disease and decided to reestablish discipline in the abbey. She reimplemented cloistering and refused to meet her family elsewhere than in the parlor. Rule observance and meditation were favoured, attracting several novices.
In 1618, Angélique was sent by her order to reform the abbey of Maubuisson, north of Paris. Port-Royal was ruled by mother Agnès, Angélique's younger sister. Back to Port-Royal in 1628, Angélique decided to transfer the abbey in Paris to have more space and a more healthy environment. The abbey of Port-Royal, now a maternity hospital, was founded in Paris, as opposed to Port-Royal-des-Champs (in-the-Fields). Angélique appointed as conscience directors Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbot of Saint-Cyran, and Antoine Singlin. They were extremely austere and considered that only the divine grace could save the corrupted human being.
One of Angélique's brothers, also influenced by Saint-Cyran's ideas, decided to withdraw from society. With a few friends, he settled in a dependency of Port-Royal abbey in Paris. In 1637, they moved to Port-Royal-des-Champs, which had been abandoned by the nuns. They drained the marshes and built new buildings. They became rapidly famous as the messieurs de Port-Royal or solitaires de Port-Royal (recluses). Next year, Saint-Cyran was jailed in Vincennes by Cardinal Richelieu, whom he had refused to serve. The abbot died in 1643.
In 1648, mother Angélique went back to Port-Royal-des-Champs and divided her flourishing community between the two Port-Royal abbeys. The messieurs moved uphill in the Granges de Port-Royal (barns). They created the Petites Ecoles (Small Schools) and the quality and efficiency of their teaching was rapidly acknowledged. The solitaires le Grand Arnauld, Arnauld d'Andilly and their relatives Lemaistre de Sacy, translator of the Bible, the hellenist Lancelot, the moralists Nicole and Hamon were among the most brilliant peoples of that time.
Port-Royal started to influence the royal court, located in Versailles, not far from Port-Royal-des-Champs, but also the Parliament of Paris and the younger generations. The Jesuits refused to lose their strong influence and accusated Port-Royal to propagate the Jansenist ideas. Jansenius, bishop of Ieper (now in Belgium) was appointed by the Catholic University of Leuven to refute the theory popularized by the Jesuit Molina, according to which the man was able to improve himself and save his soul with God's help. Jansenius died in 1638, short after having published his treaty called Augustinus.
The Port-Royal theologians, led by the Grand Arnauld, approved the Augustinus, which was fairly close to their own ideas, but also close to calvinism. They propagated the Augustinus all over France, and were accusated by the Jesuits to spread heresy. The Jesuits accumulated 'evidence' of the heresy by merging erroneous or incomplete citations of the Augustinus, so that the Augustinus was condamned several times by the pope from 1653 onwards.
The crisis increased and the Petites Ecoles were closed in
1656. The philosoph Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) published in 1656-1657
the Provinciales, a vivid attack of the Jesuits and defense of
Port-Royal. The persecutions against Port-Royal increased again in
1661, and mother Angélique died the same year.
After a short period of calm, Louis XIV decided to get rid of Port-Royal in 1679. The noviciate was closed, the solitaires were forced to leave and even to exile. The nuns of Port-Royal in Paris condamned those of Port-Royal-des-Champs, who were endlessly persecuted. In 1705, they were only 25, the youngest of them being aged 60. On 20 Octobre 1709, the last surviving nuns were expelled by the mousquetaires. Next year, the abbey was destroyed. The cemetary was profanated and the remains of the nuns were thrown into the common foss of Saint-Lambert. The suppression of Port-Royal did not suppress jansenism in France, which still caused serious troubles during the reign of Louis XV.
The radicalization of the persecution against Port-Royal was parallel to the radical evolution of Louis XIV. After the death of queen Marie-Thérèse in 1683, Louis XIV secretely married with madame de Maintenon and transformed his rule into a personal theocracy, revocating in 1685 the Edict of Nantes. Therefore, the golden age of Versailles, with the festivals, fountains and fireworks lasted only from 1664 (first festival, Les Plaisirs de l'Ile Enchantée) to 1683, a rather short period compared to the long reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715). After 1683, Versailles progressively turned into a gloomy prison. The tragedian Jean Racine, a former student of the solitaires of Port-Royal, became the official writer of the king and did not publisd anything significant between 1691 and his death in 1699.
Ivan Sache, 16 July 2003
The city hall of the municipality of Saint-Lambert flies a Tricolore - in a very bad condition with SAINT-LAMBERT written horizontally in golden letters. The flag has a golden fringe.
Ivan Sache, 20 November 1997