Congregation of Savigny
The monastic Congregation of Savigny (Savigniac Order) started in the abbey of Savigny, situated in northern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, on the confines of Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, in the Diocese of Coutances. It originated in 1105 when Vitalis of Mortain established a hermitage
Hermitage (religious retreat)
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

 in the forest at Savigny
-In France:*Savigny, Manche, in the Manche département*Savigny, Haute-Marne, in the Haute-Marne département*Savigny, Rhône, in the Rhône département*Savigny, Haute-Savoie, in the Haute-Savoie département...

 in France.


Vitalis was a canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 of the Collegiate Church of St. Evroul. He resigned his prebend to embrace an eremitical life under Robert of Arbrissel
Robert of Arbrissel
Robert of Arbrissel was an itinerant preacher, and founder of the abbey of Fontevrault. He was born at Arbrissel near Rhétiers, Brittany; and died at Orsan.-Biography:...

 in the forest of Craon
Craon is the name of several communes in France:* Craon, Mayenne, in the Mayenne department* Craon, former commune of the Meurthe-et-Moselle department, now part of Sionviller* Craon, Vienne, in the Vienne department...

, located in Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

. Leaving the latter, he retired to the forest of Savigny, where he built his own hermitage.

The number of disciples who then gathered around him necessitated the construction of adequate buildings, in which was instituted the monastic life, following the Rule of St. Benedict, interpreted in a manner similar to the Cistercians. The community wore grey habits. In A.D. 1112, the local lord, Rudolph of Fougeres, confirmed to the monastery the grants he had formerly made to Abbot Vitalis, and from then dates the foundation of the monastery. Once firmly established, its growth was rapid, and it soon became one of the most celebrated in France. The founder was judged worthy of canonization, and many of his successors in the abbatial office, as well as simple monks of the Abbey, were canonized or beatified by the Church, the best known of them being Saint Aymon.


It founded daughter-houses such as that at Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey, or St. Mary of Furness is a former monastery situated on the outskirts of the English town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The abbey dates back to 1123 and was once the second wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country, behind only Fountains Abbey in North...

 and Calder Abbey
Calder Abbey
Calder Abbey in Cumbria was a Savigniac monastery founded in 1134 by Ranulph de Gernon, 2nd Earl of Chester and moved to this site following a refoundation in 1142. It became Cistercian in 1148. It is near to the village of Calder Bridge.- History :...

, both in Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. From the number of its foundations Savigny became the head of a Congregation, numbering thirty-three subordinate houses, within thirty years of its own inception. In 1119 Pope Celestine II, then in Angers
Angers is the main city in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France about south-west of Paris. Angers is located in the French region known by its pre-revolutionary, provincial name, Anjou, and its inhabitants are called Angevins....

, took it under his immediate protection, and strongly commended it to the neighbouring nobles.

Under Abbot Geoffroy, successor to Vitalis, Henry I of England
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 established and generously endowed twenty-nine monasteries of this Congregation in his dominions. Saint Bernard
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

 of Cîteaux also held them in high esteem, and it was at his request that their monks, in the troubled times of the Antipope Anacletus II
Antipope Anacletus II
Anacletus II , born Pietro Pierleoni, was an Antipope who ruled from 1130 to his death, in a schism against the contested, hasty election of Pope Innocent II....

, declared in favour of Pope Innocent II.

Administrative merger with the Cistercians

By 1147 the Order was experiencing financial and administrative difficulties. Abbot Serlo, third successor of the founder, found it difficult to retain his jurisdiction over the English monasteries, who wished to make themselves independent. He determined to affiliate the entire Congregation to Cîteaux, which was effected at the General Chapter of 1147. Several English monasteries objecting to this, were finally obliged to submit by Pope Eugene III
Pope Eugene III
Pope Blessed Eugene III , born Bernardo da Pisa, was Pope from 1145 to 1153. He was the first Cistercian to become Pope.-Early life:...

 (1148). Each of the newly affiliated houses was surveyed, and brought within conformity of the strictures and standards of the Cistercian order.

Later history

Little by little discipline became relaxed, and once commendatory abbots were introduced (1501) it never regained its first greatness. In 1509 it was pillaged and partly burned by the Calvinists, and records of the following year mention but twenty-four monks remaining.

It continued to exist until the Revolution reduced it to a heap of ruins, and scattered its then existing members. Of all its former dependencies remains only La Grande Trappe, a daughter of Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey
Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey
Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey in Marcilly-sur-Eure in the Eure department, Haute-Normandie, France, about 10 km to the west of Dreux, on the left bank of the River Eure.- History :...

, which was a direct foundation of Savigny.

The church, a model of Cistercian architecture, was restored in 1869, and now serves for parish purposes.
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