St. Germain-des-Prés

St. Germain-des-Prés

 

an abbey on the left bank of the Seine River, within the city limits of modern Paris.

The abbey was founded in 543 or 558 by the Frankish king Childebert I. In the ninth century it was named St.-Germain-des-Prés in honor of Bishop Germain, who was declared a saint by the Catholic Church and who was buried at the abbey in the sixth century. During the seventh century the abbey adopted Benedictine rule. Under the Carolingians the abbey’s estate was vast (as mentioned in the ninth-century Polyptkus of Abbot Ir-mino). In the 15th century the land on which St.-Germain-des-Prés was situated was incorporated within the city limits of Paris. In 1631 the abbey joined the congregation of St. Maur, and it became a center for the Maurists.

The abbey was closed in 1790. Most of its extensive library was lost in a fire; those manuscripts that were saved were placed in the National Library in Paris. (Some of the manuscripts are in the manuscript section of the M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library in Leningrad.) The buildings that have been preserved include the church (tenth to 17th centuries) and the abbot’s house (1586).

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