Remiremont Abbey

Remiremont Abbey was a Benedictine abbey near Remiremont, Vosges, France.


It was founded about 620 by Romaric, a lord at the court of Chlothar II, who, having been converted by Saint Ame, a monk of Luxeuil, took the habit at Luxeuil. It comprised a monastery of monks, among whose abbots were Saint Ame (570–625), Saint Romaric (580–653) and Saint Adelphus (died 670), and a monastery of nuns, which numbered among its abbesses Saints Mactefelda (died ca 622), Claire (died ca 652) and Gébétrude (died ca 673). Bishop Arnulf of Metz, progenitor of the Arnulfing and Carolingian dynasty, died in the vicinity, probably in the year 640, and was buried in the monastery until his remains were later translated to Metz Cathedral.

At a later period the Benedictine nuns were replaced by a chapter of 98 canonesses who had to prove 200 years of nobility. In 910 the nuns, menaced by the invasion of the Hungarians, took refuge at Remiremont, which had grown up round a villa of the Frankish kings, with a monastery also being founded in the locale; in the 11th century they permanently settled there. Enriched by dukes of Lorraine, kings of France and emperors of Germany, the ladies of Remiremont attained great power. The abbess was a princess of the empire, and received consecration at the hands of the pope. The 50 canonesses were selected from those who could give proof of noble descent. On Whit Monday the neighboring parishes paid homage to the chapter in a ceremony called the Kyriolés (canticles in the vernacular); and on their accession the dukes of Lorraine, de facto immediate suzerains of the abbey, had to come to Remiremont to swear to continue their protection.

The War of the Escutcheons (French: panonceaux: displays of coats of arms) in 1566 between the duke and the abbess ended in favor of the duke; and the abbess never recovered her former position. In order to demonstrate their Imperial immediacy and their independence from the dukes of Lorraine, the sisters of the abbey mounted escutcheons around the town displaying the Imperial eagle. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, took advantage of the absence of Emperor Maximilian II, away campaigning in Hungary, to remove the escutcheons by force and establish his de facto sovereignty.

In the 17th century the ladies of Remiremont fell away so much from the original monastic rule as to take the title of countesses, renounce their vows and marry.

Catherine de Lorraine was abbess; it was to be given to her niece Marguerite but she married Gaston, Duke of Orléans; the couple's second daughter, Élisabeth Marguerite d'Orléans, was titular abbess as was Princess Élisabeth Charlotte of Lorraine. Béatrice Hiéronyme de Lorraine was also abbess. Maria Christina of Saxony, sister to the Dauphine Marie Josèphe, was abbess after Anne Charlotte.

Anne Charlotte de Lorraine, an aunt of Marie Antoinette, was an abbess. The last abbess, under the Ancien Régime, was Louise Adélaïde de Bourbon, the daughter of Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé; she was prioress of the Monastery of the Temple at her death in 1824.