Abbey Notre-Dame de Grestain

abbey of grestain

Nine Centuries of History

The abbey in which Herluin, Arlette, Robert de Mortain, Mathilde de Montgomery and some of their descendants are buried, was saintly led by its first abbots, among whom:

- Renaud de la Roque: A man of great piety.
- Foulques: whom the ancient charters describe as: “Vir justus et pacis amator” A virtuous man and a friend of peace.
- Herbert: “Vir venerandus. Lumen erat caeco, pes claudo, panis egeno.” A venerable man. He was a light to the blind, a foot to the lame and bread to the poor.

With Guillaume Huband of Exeter, this lovely tradition was lost. As soon as elected in 1180, he moved to England to live lavishly on the abbey’s English properties.
Left without guidance, the monks of Grestain fell into such depraved behaviour that the bishop of Lisieux complained to Pope Alexander III,

« There is a monastery named Grestain which once had a reputation of great saintliness. But under the current abbey, chaos has set in... Their conduct is scandalous...everyone notices it... They no longer offer charity to the poor... One of the monks killed the cook. He knocked him out with a heavy pestle... The abbot is on his way to see you. He is a dissolute liar.

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