Once you sight the Notre-Dame-de-Sénanque abbey, you can’t help but notice its impressive austerity. The lavender fields, flowering during the months of june and july, are here to soften this constrating effect. With the abbeys of Silvacane and Thoronet, Sénanque is one of the three Cistercian sisters of Provence. To keep this place hostile, the buildings were stripped of any ornament. The goal was to help the monks to remain focused on the essential.
Notre Dame de Sénanque was founded in 1148 in this isolated place, to meet the wish of renunciation to the world. The Saints Robert, Albéric and Étienne, Founding Fathers, wanted to get back to the Benedictine rule : they desired a more demanding and authentic monastic life.
“Our life rests on 3 pillars : the liturgical office (rituals, ceremonies and prayers dedicated to the worship of a religious divinity), the Lectio Divina (time spent by the monk to the knowledge of God’s words), and the work.”
In 1544, during the religious wars, the monastery was burnt down. The abbey was abandoned for some time, until a small community of monks came back in 1988, reconnecting with centuries of Cistercian tradition.
Since then, the monastic life has resumed : you can attend to the offices, which are celebrated either in the abbey church or and in the community chapel. The entrance fee and the shop and library products help the monks to assume the funding and the maintenance of the restoration works.