New Design Unveiled for the French Abbey of Saint-Marie de la Garde

The Abbey of St. Mary de la Garde is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places to visit in the French countryside, imbued with the beauty and rural colors of the surrounding farms. LAJ has written about La Garde before here. I have been privileged to visit the monastery once and the monks graciously received our pilgrim group with great hospitality, opening the doors of their nearby (and newly refinished) guesthouse for us to spend a comfortable night. It was an unforgettable experience for everyone. 

La Garde is a foundation of the traditional community of Le Barroux, established in 2002 (and made an abbey in 2021). And it is slowly growing! Currently it is maxed out at 20 monks and cannot grow until there is more living space. The local bishop of the Diocese of Agen has said of the new construction plans: 

"In the context of a society where Catholicism is losing its visibility and its influence every day, it is a deep joy and a reason for thanksgiving to see a house of God being built, intended solely for His glory and for the good of souls."

It is with great joy the monks of La Garde have recently unveiled the construction plans for their much-awaited monastic complex. Following are photos of the project from the architect, KAPAA. The first building to be built will be the new chapel. Currently they have a crowdfunding campaign to complete the chapel with a fitting bell tower and compliment of bells. Thankfully the monks have chosen to build a Benedictine abbey with a Romanesque spirit, in the style of their region, both essential elements so that the new construction will further be part of the millennial history of European monastic architecture - with the sole aim of evoking the beauty of God and attracting souls to Him.

This spring construction teams will begin digging the foundations and the first walls of the chapel will rise by summer. Anyone who has visited La Garde understands how urgent it is for the monks to be able to enlarge their property accordingly as they have outgrown their small campus, an old converted farm. The new monastery will add 6,000 square meters of space and will take 15 years to complete in 4 phases of construction.  The expansion will help monastic life and welcoming the faithful - construction will include a guesthouse. 

The monks' chapel has long been too small to accommodate the growing number of people wishing to join the monks for Sunday Mass. Also, the monks still do not have a cloister. Their library is overflowing. They need a larger refectory and a proper chapter room. Moreover, Providence has blessed the small community with a handful of vocations in recent years who need proper space for living and working. In the monastic gift shop attached to the property, the monks sell sandals made by them with great care in their monastery cobbler shop. The shoes are available in styles for both men and women.  It is therefore imperative that the monks increase at this time the number of cells and work spaces in order for them to be able to continue to grow. 

How to support the monks? First of all, by prayers. As Saint Benedict said: "And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it." (Rule, Chapter 25). At the time of building this "home of God," the monks are taking care to base everything on prayer and are asking everyone to spread the good news of the construction (of a new 21st century abbey built in the traditional monastic footprint!). This is a work of evangelization. 

And of course for all those who can help the monks with an offering, that will be greatly appreciated, even a small donation...a stone, then another...each has its importance and its weight of faith, hope and charity. With confidence in Sainte-Marie de la Garde, the monks continue this noble work. Readers are asked to be generous and donate here during the current crowd fundraising campaign to build the chapel with a small but fitting bell tower. Be sure to watch the promo video at the link. The monks lead the way. The monk who prays lives out the mystery of existence. The man who does not pray scarcely exists. 

Following are a few additional computerized images of what the completed monastic complex will look like after it is completed.  

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