Thursday, November 20, 2008

Le Cour St.-Benoît at Fontevraud

The buildings that enclose this courtyard outside the southeastern corner of the abbey's cloister date from the seventeenth century. They replaced the original twelfth century buildings that comprised the abbey's infirmary.

The abbey infirmary and the Cour St.-Benoît.

One side of the courtyard (not pictured here) is bordered by the chapel of St.-Benoît. It was in pretty bad shape when we visited, not yet restored. I don't know if it has been restored since, or if there are any plans to restore it at all.

The infirmary, the chapel, and its courtyard are named for Saint-Benoît, who lived at the turn of the sixth century. He was an Italian monk and is credited with the founding of western christian monasticism. The Benedictine Order is named for him; Benedict being the English version of his name. The French name is Benoît, and his Italian name, of course, was Benedetto.

By the way, in French, Joseph Ratzinger is known as Pape Benoît XVI (Pope Benedict the Sixteenth).

Bénédictine, the sweet herb liqueur, is so called because it was invented at the Benedictine Abbey in Normandy in the early sixteenth century.

Curiously, there's no such thing as eggs Benedict (œufs Benoît?) in French cooking, although I did find a reference to œufs bénédictine, a dish of salt cod purée and a poached egg on toast, topped with a hollandaise sauce, of course. Wikipedia says it was likely a dish prepared during Lent (no meat) dating back to the fifteenth century.

I can imagine how content those monks must have been feasting on their poached eggs and fish, then capping off their meal with a little cup of bénédictine!


  1. Eggs Benedict is named after Benedict Arnold, isn't it?

    The chapel is being restored. Last time I went there you couldn't see much of it because the scaffolding inside is closed off to visitors.

  2. I love all of this "where it came from" stuff :))

    Walt, do you mind if I link to your photo of the gisant of Eleanor and Henry on my medieval web page? I hope not, because I've already put in the link :)) Up to now, I only had a small b&w photo, and I love your nice color one, so I wanted to get that out there. I put, "courtesy of Walt S." Or should I put, WCS? Or nothing? or "Master pastry chef de St. Aignan"? or...? :))

    Hey, speaking of gisant, what would you say is the difference between that and une effigie? Since I believe that those gisants we're talking about have been referred to in English-language things as an effigy, I've always used the French equivalent to that, and not gisant. I'm thinking that effigie is perhaps more general, and would also apply to an effigy that might be on a coin or on a plaque, whereas un gisant would specifically be an effigy in the form of a recumbant statue/sculpture?

    What do you think?


  3. My goodness, sooooo tidy. And thus soooooo obvious it is NOT in the south. Ha!

  4. susan, no, I don't believe so. The dish was first made in New York in the early 1900s. The exact origin is disputed!

    judy, good questions! And I think you are right. Effigie is more general where gisant is typically recumbent.

    papa, are you folks messy down there? This coming from the guy who microwaves his sponges...

  5. judy, I forgot, yes, no problem linking. What's the address of your page?

  6. Thanks, Walt! The address of the page I use to help teach my "Eleanor" unit is

    Check out the Bayeux Tapestry video from You Tube... I love it!


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