A bit of History
The archives of the first centuries of the Rivet abbey are rather meager, because during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, the abbey and its archives were devastated and burned by the Protestants... But here is what we know anyway :
Some rare archives evoke a community of Benedictine monks as early as the mid-eighth century.
It is said that the history of the abbey Sainte-Marie du Rivet goes back to Charlemagne: indeed, some archives mention a monastic place between the middle and the end of the 8th century! And above all, we find around the abbey fortifications from the 9th century, and the abbey church dates from the 13th century! This makes the abbey one of the oldest monasteries in France!
The community is affiliated to the Cistercian order in 1189: at this date, the monastery already bears the name of Sainte-Marie.
The monastery of Le Rivet was erected as an abbey in 1408 and in 1478, after the 100 years war, the monks were only five on the spot.
Then came the Wars of Religion in the 16th century which ravaged the abbey of Le Rivet. At that time, the community was fragile and in 1702, there was only one monk left! It is then that Louis XIV appoints a commendatory abbot, that is to say a layman, who manages the abbey from a distance, and the abbey is reborn little by little! Then without surprise, the Revolutionaries chase the monks away...
It was only in 1938 that the present monastery of Le Rivet really came back to life, with a community of nuns this time and no longer Benedictine monks! Indeed, the sisters of the monastery of Blagnac, in Toulouse, were looking for a new place to settle, after learning that an airport was being built right next to the abbey... complicated for the peaceful life of the nuns!
What about today?
Today, 14 nuns live in the Rivet Abbey. They are Trappistines, that is to say they belong to the Cistercian order of Strict Observance, which is an order stemming from the Cistercians of the Common Observance, themselves from the Benedictines. The Sisters of the Rivet therefore still follow the rule of St. Benedict, "ora et labora", alternating between prayer and work.
The nuns make prayer the dominant activity of their daily life.
In addition to Mass and personal prayer, they gather seven times a day to pray the various offices, the first of the day being at 4:30 a.m.!
The other pillar of the sisters' life is manual and intellectual work. For more than twenty years, they have been making small lemon, rum and almond cookies, or chocolate crunchies.
But that's not all: the sisters also make santons, candles, and silk scarves !
The abbey of Le Rivet is a specialist in santons ! It even holds regular and well-known exhibitions in the region during the Christmas period. The nuns have been solicited several times for their craftsmanship: in 2017, the television channel France 3 made a report on the santons that the nuns make! The TF1 channel also did one more recently, in January 2020!
If you go on site around that time, you will probably see a large crib exhibition on the right side of the store...
On the site of the abbey, located in Auros, there is a cave identical to the one in Lourdes! Jeanne Védère, a cousin of Bernadette Soubirous, entered the sisters of Blagnac when the Virgin had predicted it a few years before. The sisters of Blagnac are those who arrived in 1936 at Le Rivet. Jeanne took the name of Sister Gertrude, and rests today at Le Rivet, in the place of this famous cave!
The products of Le Rivet Abbey are available on site at the abbey, but also online at Divine Box: https://divinebox.fr/categorie-produit/producteurs/abbaye-du-rivet/
Phone : 05 56 65 05 30
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator