Located near Avignon, in Provence, the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours de Blauvac was founded in 1991, but the history of this monastery goes back to the French Revolution! The seventeen Trappist nuns currently on site are known to be the largest producers of hosts in France (in addition to their 7 daily services and their monastic production of course!).
Switzerland then Russia then Lyon then Maubec and finally Blauvac: globetrotting sisters!
It was in the midst of the French Revolution that everything began for the community of Blauvac (a difficult context!). In 1790, the Constituent Assembly went so far as to forbid religious vows, just before declaring almost all the monastic patrimony as national property before selling them.
Dom Augustin de Lestrange, a charismatic Cistercian from the abbey of La Trappe de Soligny, then invited his entire community to take refuge in Switzerland, a neutral territory.
But the revolutionary spirit spreads like wildfire... They then flee to Russia, with all the complications one can imagine related to the journey, the cold etc...
However, in 1815, thanks to the fall of Napoleon and the arrival of King Louis XVIII, it was the great return to France for some nuns. Their first stop was in the suburbs of Lyon, in Vaise, where they founded the community of Notre-Dame du Bon Secours.
For contemplative nuns, it was not easy to be in the heart of such a busy city! They stayed there for only a few years and then left for Maubec on August 24, 1834, a small village in Provence...
The community expanded rapidly, requiring extensive work to build a new monastery. It became necessary for the nuns of Maubec to develop their activities to finance this project! For the record, in 1847 the nuns even created a school and professional training center: the "Saint Joseph House", for young girls from 6 to 18 years old.
This was surprising for contemplative nuns, whose vocation was more to pray than to teach! But above all, the nuns began to work in monastic crafts: production of "Quina" (a fortifying wine), silk work, making nougats, etc...
But in spite of the construction of the new monastery, the nuns really began to feel cramped in Maubec... because there were 153 nuns on site in 1860! The solution? To move to Toulouse, to the Abbey of Bonneval or to the Abbey of Chambarand!
Alas, this golden age declined at the end of the 20th century, as vocations became increasingly rare... This is why, in 1991, the Maubec community decided to move to Blauvac, the abbey where the community still lives today!
Today, a little corner of paradise: calm and rest assured!
"Ora et labora", prayer and work, is the famous rule of Saint Benedict that the 17 Trappistines of Blauvac Abbey try to live every day. Thus, their day is punctuated by 7 offices (the first of which is at 4:30 am!) and by manual work which allows them to meet their needs. They produce a lot of good monastic products: lavender marshmallows, chocolate financiers, meringues, as well as green tea made from forest fruits!
If you have the opportunity to take a look just above the fence, you may see the buildings, built by an extravagant Belgian...
Luckily (you will understand very quickly on the spot): the architectural style was already very close to the monastic style! So when they arrived in 1991, there was no need to rebuild everything!
The sisters are making sparks (and hosts)!
Apart from the maintenance tasks proper to any community, such as the hotel, the store, the housekeeping or even the mutual aid sessions, the nuns of Blauvac are dedicated to the making of hosts. In fact, this is their main activity today: in fact, the abbey of Blauvac is the leading producer of hosts in France!
This factory is working at full capacity for the small community: they have been working there 5 hours a day since May 30, 1909. Whatever their age, from 32 to 93 years old, they put their hands to work! If you go for a walk, you may see an "old" sister sorting hosts at the reception desk...
You should also know that the sisters make all kinds of hosts: white or golden, standard or custom-made for monstrances.
And everything is done 100% by hand, whether it is the preparation of the dough, the cooking, the cutting, and even the gluing of the labels, reserved for the "old" sisters...
The same goes for the recipe, nothing could be simpler and more efficient: just water and local flour!
Oh yes, and a little anecdote for the end! The abbey of Blauvac is not far from the road to Santiago de Compostela. That's why for more than a century, pilgrims have been coming to quench their thirst at the Saint-Jacques fountain, located in the abbey's enclosure! They can even stay overnight in the guesthouse, and come to pray in the chapel.
Abbey of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours de Blauvac
994 route de Saint Estève,
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator