The Abbey of Our Lady of Grace in Bricquebec is located in the middle of Normandy.  Since 1823, it has been home to a community of Trappist monks, famous for their pâtés, rillettes, potted meat, other meat terrines, and cheese.

Throughout its history, this abbey faced many misfortunes, fires, and other epidemics, but always managed to remain.

Below is the eventful history of Our Lady of Bricquebec Abbey and its delicious pâtés!

The beautiful abbey of Our-Lady in Bricquebec under the sun / Divine Box

A quick history of the Bricquebec Abbey

It started in 1823 when Digosville parish priest Father Augustin Onfroy founded a community, animated by his desire of getting back to a monastic life.

The Bishop of Normandy agreed, but wanted the new abbey in the Diocese of Coutances, near Cherbourg, a region the French Revolution decimated. Fortunately, Providence watched over him, and a local resident offered Father Augustin a plot of land with three mills.

With this generous gift, the adventure began, and in 1824, twelve postulants already took the Trappist habit.

However, during the first 20 years, some monks left the abbey, others died of typhoid, and vocations decreased. Then in 1839, a fire burned the abbey and turned parts of the buildings into ashes. This was overall a very complicated beginning for our Norman brothers.

Thankfully, in 1860, vocations began flowing in again, and the number of on-site monks rose to 80!

Bricquebec Abbey was once again in the limelight, particularly in the 1870s, during the wars, when the monks welcomed and cared for many of the wounded.

This was a period of real revival for the abbey, which provided a living for more than 200 families in the surrounding area, thanks to its agricultural production.

Indeed, the brothers now maintain a large farm and two mills, raise chickens, cows, and pigs, make a cheese that is rapidly gaining in reputation, as well as good bread, thanks to the flour from their mills.

Everything is going well!

Old drawing of La Trappe of Bricquebec, in its early days / La Trappe de Bricquebec

The world wars did not spare the monks

When World War I broke out, the monks took in about 700 wounded soldiers. Therefore, they no longer had time to look after their farming activities. As a result, at the end of the war, the abbey was left without a penny.

Second, during World War II, it was no longer the infirm, but up to 300 German soldiers occupying abbey. Even the Liberation was not a happy time for them. Due to the dairy crisis, they had no other choice but to sell their brand of cheese, La Trappe de Bricquebec!

Since that time, vocations diminished, and the average age of the community gradually increased.

Father Marc’s pâtés

In 1969, the community was revived by Father Marc, a farmer’s son. He was determined to relaunch the agricultural activity, and set up a pigsty with 40 sows, without knowing much about it.

But that’s not all – he also launched a new brand called “Les Charcuterie de la Trappe.”

It generated money for the community and allowed them to live and continue their lives of prayer and work in decent conditions.

As for their operating conditions, the brothers take good care in respecting the animals and their environment. Thus, the pigs are raised in the open air, and their food is 100 percent vegetarian.

Today, at 86 years old, Father Marc still runs the charcuterie.

The rest of the community is not involved in production, which has been entrusted to a small business next to the abbey. One may ask: what is the speciality of the workshop under Father Marc’s orders? Of course it is Father Marc’s pâté!

Father Marc caring for his free-range sows © Bricquebec Abbey

Click here to learn more about Father Mark’s products at Bricquebec Abbey.

What do you think of the abbey’s story?

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[See also: Inside the Hidden Monastic Life of France’s Jelly-Making Benedictine Monks]

[See also: How a 1000-Year-Old Abbey Survived War & Destruction – The Amazing Way the Monks Live Now]

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