Welcome to the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, in the Dordogne, east of Périgueux, where a small community of nuns has been living there for 20 years, between prayer and work! This monastery draws its origins from Greece, more exactly from the mythical Mount Athos...
Originally: a peninsula inhabited only... by monks
It all began a very long time ago on Mount Athos, in northern Greece. This mountainous peninsula, about 80km long, is quite particular because there are only monks living there! They have been there since the 7th century, or even the 4th century according to some sources. And it has continued like that ever since! Today, Mount Athos is a "monastic republic" autonomous from the Greek state and recognized by the European Union! Crazy, isn't it? By the way, on Mount Athos, one of the monasteries is called Simonos-Petra, "Simon's rock". For the record, it was indeed founded on a rock in the 13th century by St. Simon the Myroblite, an Orthodox saint, at the request of a voice and a star that shone in the sky on the evening of the Nativity.
The name Simonos-Petra was quickly adopted!
The arrival in France
Much later, in 1978 (very few archives were kept before), the superior of the Simonos-Petra monastery decided to send three French monks to create dependencies of this Orthodox monasticism in France, first for a community of six Orthodox nuns! The first stone was laid in June 1978 in the Lot, thanks to Father Elie, one of the three French monks sent from Simonos-Pétra. But as soon as they arrived, everything became more complex! The land was very rocky and sloping, and the work was complicated and very costly.
Finally, the sisters decided to move but they wanted to stay in the same area so as not to lose their very dear faithful. In 1990, they finally found a piece of land in the Dordogne, reinvesting an old farm. Everything went like clockwork but the chapel was still missing to make the monastery a success! Don't panic, it quickly found its place... in an old dovecote!
A large Orthodox church under construction!
In 2013, a little more than twenty years after their installation on the spot, the nuns launched an ambitious project of renovation and expansion of the monastery. And this is no luxury, because the sisters' cells are still "temporary" (for twenty years), and the Orthodox faithful are very crowded in the chapel on feast days! So they built a new church, the old one being too narrow. Moreover, we can see today the dome (twelve meters in diameter) of this new church of Byzantine inspiration which will welcome very soon about three hundred faithful. Go and take a tour, this Byzantine architecture is worth the detour!
The community today
Today, the monastery of the Transfiguration is home to four French Orthodox sisters and Father Elie, their chaplain. As in Mount Athos, they follow the principles of St. Basil (4th century), which leaves a great deal of room for prayer, work and knowledge of God. The nuns get up very early: they start praying at 3am!
And, like any monastery, the sisters have a store where they sell their monastic crafts and those of other monasteries. Their store is called "Athos Agora". For the record, Athos evokes the specific relationship with Mount Athos, and Agora (meeting of the whole people) reminds us that this store is also a place of exchange and meeting!
But if you can't make it to the monastery or if the covid prevents you from doing so, you can click here to buy online the products of the Transfiguration monastery on the Divine Box online monastic store!
If you have the opportunity to visit the monastery, take a look at the sisters' herd! Indeed, in addition to the nuts to harvest, the guesthouse to manage and the library to maintain, the sisters raise sheep, in keeping with a very ancient monastic tradition. It is in part a "charmoise" flock because the ewes give birth easily and almost autonomously. Today, a hundred of them are happily frolicking, and are often on the podium of national competitions for their meat or wool! And that is beautiful.
Monastery of the Transfiguration
05 53 50 23 94
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