Sant Martí del Canigó

( Abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou )

The abbey of Saint-Martin-du-Canigou (Catalan: Sant Martí del Canigó) is a monastery built in 1009 in the Pyrenees of Northern Catalonia on Canigou mountain in present-day southern France near the Spanish border.

Pau Casals wrote a composition entitled "Sant Martí del Canigó" for Orchestra.

The original Romanesque style monastery was built from 1005 to 1009 by Guifred II, Count of Cerdanya (Fr. Cerdagne), in atonement for the murder of his son and was populated by Benedictine monks.

In 1050, Guifred II died at the monastery he had built after having become a monk here 15 years before. In 1051 a messenger set forth to visit religious houses throughout Europe to solicit prayers for Guifred. He brought a parchment, a mortuary roll, upon which at each stop were added words of prayer and respect. This parchment has survived and scholars (including Léopold Delisle with his Rouleaux des Morts du IX au XV Siecle of 1866) have used it to discover differences in culture between northern and southern Europe in a single given year. Some of the discoveries from this important document include that southern culture was more staid and bound by custom while the northern culture more free form and experimental in their writing styles, use of words and grammar.

The monastery was damaged in the Catalan earthquake of 1428.

The monastery was secularized in 1782 by Louis XVI. The monastery was abandoned by the monks in 1783-1785 and fell into disrepair.

During Reign of Terror in the years 1793-1794, the abbey was closed, and its contents scattered. The buildings were then transformed into a stone quarry for nearby residents, the capitals of the cloister were looted, as well as sculptures and furniture.

In 1902, the bishop of Elne and Perpignan, because of his Catalan background, began to restore the ruins radically, work that was completed in 1932. Today it is occupied by the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes.

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