St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough

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St. Michael's Abbey
Image Stmchurch2.jpg
St. Michael's Abbey Church
St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough is located in Hampshire
St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough
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Location within Hampshire
Monastery information
Other names Farnborough Abbey
Order Benedictine
Established 1881
Dedicated to St. Michael
Diocese Portsmouth
Controlled churches St. Michael's Abbey Church
People
Founder(s) Eugénie de Montijo
Abbot Dom Cuthbert Brogan
Important associated figures
Site
Location Farnborough, Hampshire, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°17′48″N 0°45′00″W / 51.2968°N 0.7499°W / 51.2968; -0.7499
Grid reference SU873560
Public access Yes

Saint Michael's Abbey is a Benedictine abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire, England. The small community is known for the quality of its liturgy, which is sung in Latin and Gregorian Chant, its pipe organ, and its liturgical publishing and printing. It is also the national shrine of St Joseph.

History[edit]

The Abbey was founded in 1881 by the Empress Eugénie (1826–1920) as a mausoleum for her late husband Napoleon III (1808–1873), and their son the Prince Imperial (1856–1879), both of whom rest in the Imperial Crypt, along with Eugénie herself, all in granite sarcophagi provided by Queen Victoria.

After the church and monastery were founded, they were initially administered by Premonstratensian Canons. In 1895, the Empress replaced them with French Benedictine monks from St Peter's Abbey, Solesmes. Fernand Cabrol, monk and scholar, became prior and afterwards abbot (1903); Henri Leclercq and a small group of French monks joined the house at the same time, and Leclercq and Cabrol collaborated for many years in scholarly endeavours. The community, once famed for its scholarly writing and musical tradition of Gregorian chants, became depleted in number by 1947, and was augmented by a small group of English monks from Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire. The last French monk, Dom Zerr, died in 1956. In 2006 the community elected the first English Abbot of Farnborough—the Right Reverend Dom Cuthbert Brogan.

Public tours of the Abbey take place every Saturday at 3pm, with the tour comprising a tour of the church and a visit to the crypt.

Abbey Church[edit]

The Abbey Church was designed in an eclectic flamboyant gothic style by the renowned French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur.

The Abbey Church is home to a renowned two-manual organ, installed in 1905, built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll & Company. The instrument's origins are shrouded in mystery. Although installed after the death of Cavaillé-Coll, it bears his name rather than that of his son-in-law Mutin, and the internal works are of a quality which identifies this model with the highest standards of workmanship of the high days of that company. Organ recitals are held on the first Sunday afternoon of the month between May and October at 3pm.

The church also contains the thigh bone of St Alban, the largest relic of the saint in England.

Church Dome

Catholic National Library[edit]

The Catholic Central Library was set up by the Catholic Truth Society after the First World War. It was for many years maintained by Franciscans in Westminster until they were obliged to withdraw. It moved into the care of St Michael's Abbey in 2007 for a probationary period pending a final decision on its future. In 2007 it was renamed the Catholic National Library, and is one of the finest collections of Catholic books in England.

External links[edit]