Port-Royal

[nuns of Port Royal] A Benedictine abbey for women, founded by Mathilde de Garlande in 1204; located at Chevreuse, near Versailles. It later came under the rule of Citeaux and after its reformation by Mother Angelique Arnauld in 1609, became a center and fortress of Jansenism. In 1626 the community repaired to Paris where it founded Port-Royal of Paris, assuming the name of Daughters of the Blessed Sacrament. Here the Abbe Saint-Cyran, spiritual director of the monastery, gathered around him a group of priests and laymen known as Solitaires, who became leaders of the Jansenist movement. In 1638 they left Paris and established a community near the old abbey "of the Fields" where some of the nuns later repaired; there was thus a Port-Royal of Paris and a Port-Royal "of the Fields". The famous "Little Schools" were opened, and, since the community included some remarkable men, and admirable teachers, it came to exert a profound influence on the religious and literary life of France in the 17th century, and contributed substantially to the progress of pedagogy. Among them were Nicole, Le Nain de Tillemont, Lemaitre de Lacy: their most illustrious pupil was Racine, Pascal was one of their followers, and they enlisted the sympathies of Bossuet and of Mme. de Sevigne. Their prestige enabled them to resist, for a long time, the authority of both the king and the pope, but in 1704 they were suppressed by a Bull of Pope Clement IX. King Louis XIV, who hated Port-Royal, gave the order to expel the nuns in 1709, and in 1710 the buildings were razed; only the tower and some ruins of the once magnificent monastery now remain. The buildings of Port-Royal of Paris still exist and are occupied by a maternity hospital.

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