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Notre-Dame de la Garde
 
    France

 
Marseille

 
Abbey of St Victor





 
 
Summary
 
The Abbey of Saint Victor, Marseille was built in the 11th and 14th centuries, and stands over an earlier crypt that houses early Christian sarcophagi. Between 11th and 18th centuries the abbey played an important role in Christianity’s development in the Mediterranean.
 


 
Named after the local Roman soldier who was to become a martyr and saint, the Abbey of Saint Victor is believed to have been founded in the 5th century on the tomb of an ancient Christian martyr.  It was destroyed in the 8th or 9th century by the Saracens but following its re-establishment in 977 it underwent extensive building work, especially in the 11th century under Saint Isarn during his term as Abbot. This work included the construction of the church, which includes the tower known as Isarn Tower and which today provides access to the church.  The church of St. Victor was dedicated by Pope Benedict IX in 1040 and underwent further rebuilding in 1200.  

Abbot Guillaume Grimoard enlarged the church following his appointment in 1361 and surrounded it with high crenelated walls. The present church, built in the 11th and 14th centuries, stands over an earlier crypt that houses early Christian sarcophagi. Between the 11th and 18th centuries it played an important role in Christianity’s development in the Mediterranean 

At one time the abbey held an impressive library, but this was broken up in the latter part of the 16th century. The dissolution of the Abbey was decreed by Pope Clement XII on 17 December 1739, and in 1794 the abbey was stripped of its treasures with many of its relics being destroyed. The gold and silver objects were melted down to make coins. During the 18th century the building itself was used as a warehouse to store straw and also as a prison and as a barracks.

The building was to became a church again in the 19th century and in 1934 it was made into a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI. Visitors are able to visit the church and its crypt, which houses a number of early Christian tombs and sarcophagi.

 














 














 

 

 

All  Photographs Copyright: Ron Gatepain

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