From: St. Dominic and His Work, by Pierre Mandonnet, O.P.,
        Translated by Sister Mary Benedicta Larkin, O.P., B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis/London, 1948.


The Birth of St. Mary of Prouille

THE oldest official document in which the religious of Prouille are named is a charter of donation from the Archbishop, Berenger of Narbonne, dated April 17,1207. If Bernard Guidonis, Jean de Réchac, and Percin, in their respective periods, successively noticed this deed at the very beginning of the register or estate rolls of the monastery, we may naturally conclude that it already had that place in the thirteenth century and consequently introduces us to the very origin of the foundation. The circumstance is fortunate, since the deed is of capital importance. By supplementing and supporting it with contemporary evidence, we can describe briefly the birth of Prouille, its personnel, its nature, its purpose, its material resources, its founders, and, to a certain point, even its chronology.

Berenger of Narbonne granted the revenues of an important parish to the prioress and the nuns "recently converted by the exhortation and example of Brother Dominic and his companions." Thus are introduced the first members of the future convent. Even their number may be known. Jean de Réchac, Percin, and Echard enumerate the first eleven nuns whose names they read in the ancient papers or records of Prouille. We have no reason to reject this information, because it can be checked by the list of the nineteen nuns who were living May 15, 1211.(1) Berengaria, in the process of canonization at Toulouse(2) mentioned nine converts, one or more of whom entered perhaps at Prouille, as Constantine of Orvieto(3) affirms, though one might be tempted to see in the account only a legendary fabrication. In any event, that these nine women and the diabolical apparition which worked to their good, were associated with the origin of the monastery, is false.(4) Is there, then, no identity between the converted women referred to by Berengaria and the conversae mentioned by the Archbishop of Narbonne? Who were the latter?

The term conversus (conversa) had long been in the vocabulary of religious life. Over and above its use in a restricted sense, meaning adult postulants or lay religious, in the early thirteenth century it still retained much of its original significance and was used to designate Christians who by a radical change in their habits embraced a state of penance by entering religion. Among the Albigenses of that time, therefore, conversion, strictly speaking, could signify at once either entrance into religion or a turning from heresy. Considering the circumstances, the second meaning seems more obvious. Moreover, Dominican registers and records of the period employed the term only in its precise application to the conversion of the sinner, a return to the faith from heresy or amendment of life.(5) It is indeed to this kind of conversion (coupled with a religious vocation) that the text refers. The mention of the apologetic efforts of Dominic and his companions is characteristic, as is the specification in another record: (to the women) "converted by the preachers delegated to preach against heretics and to drive out pestilential heresy."(6) Another document(7) makes still clearer the distinction between conversion from heresy and the embracing of religious life; it uses the expression, "to the women converted, to those living religiously." The first nuns of Prouille, therefore, had at first been reclaimed from error to truth by St. Dominic.


In any case, the beneficiaries of possible reconciliation were not wanting in this unhappy country.(8) Situated at the crossroads from Limoux to Castelnaudary and from Foix to Carcassonne, Prouille marked the center of one of the most active strongholds of Catharism. Particularly the road from Carcassonne, with its meeting places for unbelievers from Mirepoix, Fanjeaux, and Montréal, formed the highway of the heresy. In 1206 the first of these towns had been host to a great council of the "perfect" where no fewer than six hundred of these elect of the second degree(9) were gathered. Fanjeaux, on the hill from which it dominates Prouille, was celebrated for the solemn apostasy in 1205 of Esclarmonde, sister of the Count of Foix.(10) Heresy flourished there openly and freely: among some fifty knights composing its nobility, there was not one who was not a heretic or a fomenter of heresy, beginning with Dame Cavaers, the mistress of the place. Certain families had been Cathari for several generations; they were born "believing." Guilbert de Castres preached the tenets of the sect there with great success, and people from the country round came to Fanjeaux to be instructed or to receive the consolamentum.(11) Colleges of the "Perfect" for the men and for the women(12) who were "vested" were numerous, and these institutions gave heresy its best weapons.

Thoroughly inspired in principle by a desire for religious perfection, the Catharist movement in the twelfth century quite naturally developed, for ascetical life in common, colleges resembling in their organization that of Christian religious houses.(13) In this sphere, as in many others, Albigensianism displayed its opposition to the Church. For the men these centers of perfection provided places for preaching and teaching as well as retreat houses and seminaries; for the women they were rather hospices where retreatants or even travelers were received. The great attraction which the women of Europe had for religious life in that century was reflected in this arrangement. In these houses the women led a life that was poor, austere, and chaste. Likewise, although the "perfect" Cathari, unlike the Waldenses, did not go out of their habitations to engage in the ministry or in preaching of any kind,(14) by the very spectacle of their life and particularly through their hospitality they exerted a profound influence. Finally, according to a custom prevalent at the time and practiced by them on a bigger scale perhaps than by Catholics, these organizations received and reared very young children who were entrusted to them by their parents, that in their turn they might become "vested" heretics.(15) The disinterestedness of these Catharist convents, the protection which they enjoyed from the lords of the territory, who often confided their own relatives to them, the fraternal and pecuniary benefits dispensed as part of their apologetic and propagandist program(16) make comprehensible their attraction and the resistance they mustered against Catholicism. The force of it is expressed clearly in a brief dialogue heard after one of the discussions.

"Never would we have believed," said a hearer, "that Rome could bring such effective arguments against these men."

"Ah well!" Bishop Foulques replied, "and do you not see how their power collapses in the face of these objections?"

"Perfectly," came the answer.

"Then why not expel them from your country?" he asked.

"We cannot; we are supported by them; our own relatives are in their number, and we see how they are living in perfection."(17)

This was the attraction that drew the apostolic preachers into the canton of Fanjeaux-Montréal under the leadership of the Bishop of Osma. Dominic from the first penetrated the very heart of the Catharist institution. Peter Ferrand(18) gives an account of one of his campaigns of conversion in a hospice of the "Perfect." His radiant holiness quickly made conquests among these misguided but generous and sincere souls. Then the problem opened up to him in all its fullness. It was not a work that could stop at conversion alone.

"The Bishop of Osma established a convent in the place called Prouille, between Fanjeaux and Montreal, to house there certain noble girls whose parents, impelled by need, entrusted them to the heretics to be trained and reared." The information in this brief note from Jordan of Saxony(19) is in perfect accord with what the charter of Berenger and the situation at Fanjeaux reveal. It throws light on the type of convert women who were the beneficiaries of the gift of Berenger in 1207 and on the nature of the house that was opened at Prouille.

Independent of any promptings of a religious nature, the presentation of children and the entrance of adults to the heretical colleges had an unmistakable economic aspect. The institutions of oblates, donats, and lay brothers or sisters, and the whole feminine religious movement of the thirteenth century cannot be understood without a knowledge of underlying temporal conditions. Finding it impossible to live in impoverished families, in the midst of criminal surroundings, laymen, women and children, offered themselves or were offered to societies of common life, better prepared to defend them. The second charter of Prouille, issued four months after the first, was a contract of "donation."(20) Among the landed nobility the material situation in Languedoc was particularly difficult; the custom of division of inheritances by equal shares had resulted little by little in an infinitesimal parceling of property, so that often the same village was sharing its revenues among twenty-five, thirty-five and even fifty co-lords; this last was the number at Fanjeaux.(21) The religious crisis, therefore, was closely connected with an economic and social crisis. There could be only one solution. If the converted were to be allowed to exist, if the way of salvation was to be opened to those whom misery alone bound to the Cathari, a Christian life in common would have to be instituted to receive them. Prouille was provided.


What is more, these "perfect" apprentices had true spiritual aspirations for prayer, for asceticism, for a life separated from the world. Prouille was to be not a simple hospice but a religious house, a convent. In the words of Jordan of Saxony, it was the monasterium. From the beginning, according to the charter of Berenger, the foundation had the character of a regular house, with a prioress and nuns; the religious, established in their provisional lodging,(22) were separated from the world; the gift which they received from their Archbishop was received in their name by a male personnel similar to that customary for the contemporary feminine communities and represented by Brother Dominic and Brother William Claret. The Prouille convent was in this way a challenging answer to the colleges of the "perfect"; it was like them even to the degree in which these communities were modeled on Catholic monasteries and satisfied legitimate desires for Christian perfection. Like the colleges of the Cathari, Prouille was to radiate influence through the good life of its religious. Like them and in greater truth, it was to be a rallying point for the apostolate of the preachers. Further, it had its Catholic concept for the interior appointment of a religious house.

Its installation in a church was profoundly significant. Not one word in the documents suggests that the ordo, though yet hardly sketched, would in any way depart from what was classic for nuns' convents. On one point, this contact with what was customary in contemporary regular communities placed precise limits on the extent to which the house would undertake the work of protection. In principle, Prouille would receive only adults or, at any rate, girls of an age to become nuns; it stood against being transformed, like some of our modern convents, into an institute of young girls. Not only do the texts never mention any other class than the converted, or nuns, or sisters,(23) but an ancient Rule of Prouille reads, "It is not at all our custom to receive girls younger than eleven years of age; nevertheless, if any should be received before this age, to avoid a serious occasion of a fall or to procure some spiritual benefit, they should be cared for apart and educated carefully to the age of fourteen."(24) The precocity of children in that century and in that province should be taken into consideration. The first part of this prescription, which can be found equivalently in other contemporary rules (since Cluny had taken the initiative), shows the general reaction in religious congregations against the disorders which the presence of too great a number of children had caused in cloisters. The second part, however, gives an idea of the preservative intentions which had given rise to the practice.

On April 17, 1207, Prouille was but a new-born institute. It would be fantastic to attempt to distinguish there all the elements of the future convent. With its economic status uncertain and its living quarters temporary, the whole tenor of regular life was conditional. Is not the beginning of every foundation the same? The first converted women established themselves, according to the charter of Berenger, "in the church of Prouille," that is, in some buildings adjoining this little sanctuary;(25) but, probably for lack of space,(26) all the girls were not yet lodged there; during the first weeks they remained at Fanjeaux.(27) Needless to say, the buildings were not very commodious. Prouille had at one time been a parish;(28) but its title and revenues had disappeared, probably on account of the heresy of the inhabitants. There were, it seems, two abandoned chapels, in such poor condition that the sisters were soon obliged to reconstruct them; one was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the other to St. Martin.(29) The nuns immediately made their residence in the first; the second, which was in ruins, was given to them in 1246 and at that time became the chapel of the friars. What was called a building was a shack, so poor that no one would have been tempted to appropriate it, and no donation was required for its occupation.


All the changes that can be traced in the first period of Prouille follow the variations in its economic condition. In the early days the sisters lived as well as they could on alms and on the revenues donated by Berenger, the first of which did not accrue to them perhaps before 1209.(30) But after 1211 the victorious crusaders began to endow them generously. When Bishop Foulques regained possession of some of the property of his diocese, formerly in a dilapidated condition, he in turn imitated other benefactors. And in that year, by two successive grants, he first definitively secured to the religious women the property of the church of St. Mary. In the seventeenth century, Jean de Réchac read these two deeds together in the rolls of the convent. He published the first one, which was a donation pure and simple, with a reservation of the tithes and first fruits. This deed, which bears no notice of month or day, must have been given prior to May 15, when apparently Simon de Montfort considered the church as belonging to the sisters.(31) A short time later (perhaps before the siege of Toulouse?), in response to the repeated request of St. Dominic, Foulques stated the specifications of his grant; he added the gift of thirty feet of ground on each side of the church, exempting from tithes and first fruits the property acquired by the sisters, and had his act confirmed by the provost of his chapter.(32) The sisters, whose number meanwhile had increased from eleven to eighteen or nineteen, were able to think of constructing a suitable convent, thanks to the numerous gifts which now flowed in upon them.(33)

The work of building went on without delay. A whole series of records mentions the "monastery" and even the new "abbey."(34) Should the latter term be understood in its technical sense? Certainly it was not definitively adopted, because at the same time more unpretentious words like domus,(35) locus,(36) and ecclesia(37) were employed, or quite simply the name, St. Mary of Prouille, or just Prouille. Besides, never did the prior or the prioress claim the title of abbot or abbess. In short, after 1213, the term "abbey" disappeared. The rather high sounding title reflects in a way the impression made on the people by the relatively large size of the new edifice. The prior of Prouille himself would have rejected a term of such little apologetic worth in an Albigensian stronghold. But it is probable that the appearance and disappearance of the word "abbey" indicated something even more significant.


Prouille rose and developed in the heart of the Cistercian atmosphere. Numerous traces show the relations of the convent with the Order of St. Bernard, the great preceptor of nuns in that age. Now, when Dominic arrived in Languedoc, he was neither prepared to be the founder of an order nor bent upon becoming so. It is quite natural to think that from the first he considered having his religious house incorporated with the Order of Cîteaux, as an "abbey" of women, once it was fairly established. In 1212-13, the time seemed to have arrived. Perhaps Dominic instituted some proceedings. The year 1213, on the other hand, marked the first show of resistance by the Order of Cîteaux to new incorporations. It soon became invincible. Perhaps for this reason Prouille was not officially recognized as a Cistercian abbey and was not confided to the administration of these religious.(38) Its juridical status and its proper name of "monastery" were not definitively settled until early in the year 1218, with the concession of the great bull of foundation, which sanctioned the independence of the house.(39)

Whatever the situation, beginning with 1212, the religious life of the sisters expanded into its normal and ultimate frame. It would seem natural to place in this period the first writing of the Rule of Prouille(40) and doubtless also the establishment of the cloister. Certain elements of this Rule were borrowed from the great codes of religious life for women as conceived by Cîteaux and Prémontré. But the Rule was original in the sense that it was not made part of a traditional rule. Its existence at Prouille in October, 1215, may be confirmed by the fact that the bull of protection then accorded by the Pope made no mention of a classic rule. We may, however, ask whether an elementary bull of economic protection would have to mention the rule.(41)

As to the enclosure, probably the sisters had been able to maintain it from the very beginning in their temporary buildings, as all the early historians of Prouille attest; but it seems more likely that Dominic did not establish it before the erection of regular monastic quarters. Finally, the significance of the proceedings of 1218 was, for the sisters, economic rather than religious, because the purpose was to separate them definitively from the Order at St. Romanus, while at the same time it consecrated the friars in their own regular life of the Preachers, by a privilege identical with that received a year earlier by the friars of Toulouse. It is, therefore, an error and somewhat of an anachronism to interpret this event, as Percin does, as the transition of the sisters from a profession of simple vows to a profession of solemn vows. He says that the first companions of St. Dominic made no profession before that date(42) and that the sisters were at times called dominae. There is nothing surprising in the title; it was classic for nuns in the thirteenth century.(43) In the records of Prouille it is used along with the designations moniales(44)(nuns), sancti moniales (holy nuns ),(45) and particularly sorores (sisters), which appeared to be the preferred title as in accord with their humility.(46)


One point still awaits consideration, one that gave the new community its true character: its relation to the apostolate of the Preachers among the Albigensians, as directed by Diego of Osma. It is bound up with some chronological details.

The miraculous sign, the occupying of the convent, and the establishing of the cloister were respectively assigned by Percin to July 22, November 22, and December 27 of the year 1206. Echard(47) also mentions the last two dates as having been read by him in the Acts of Prouille. But Réchac, who wrote earlier, had known only the third date.(48) Further, the date, December 27, for the enclosure was already traditional in the early fourteenth century (1307), when Bernard Guidonis gave it as a heritage faithfully transmitted through the generations of sisters.(49) It is the only one of the three dates which can at present be considered as having some foundation. Bernard Guidonis also thought it might be December 27, 1206, because he assigned to that year the foundation of the convent with its cloister.(50) But he himself does not join the two (date and year); thus we see that the two chronological traditions of day and year were transmitted separately. We have suggested that the establishment of the cloister might have occurred several years after the foundation, perhaps in 1212 or 1213. In that case, the year 1206 stands as the only indication given by Bernard Guidonis for the birth of Prouille. According to his method of calculation, the foundation was made between April 2, 1206 and April 22, 1207 (or perhaps March 25, if it is a question of accordance with the Annunciation). That is the sole chronological note of ancient record for this event, the thirteenth century having left no testimony. While it lacks precision and seems rather late, it may be considered approximately correct.

The chronology of Prouille depends, in fact, upon the chronology of the apostolic journeys of Diego and the legates. They were in Carcassès in the late summer or early autumn of 1206, and then again, after the apostolate in the Toulouse district, in the first part of 1207. It is possible and even probable that some conversions were already made among the women at the time of the first visit. The idea of a foundation, however, if it presented itself to the Preachers at all, was something not yet feasible. They could not shoulder such a burden; they had to make their rounds as itinerant preachers. Early in 1207, however, their apostolate centered more in the region of Fanjeaux-Montréal,(51) one of the principal strongholds of heresy. At the same time (March, 1207), Arnold Amaury of Cîteaux arrived with a strong contingent to join the legates at Montreal. This reinforcement was the signal for a complete change in the apostolic method. The system of having a little missionary band tirelessly traversing the whole country was abandoned. The territory was divided among the principal preachers; within each of the new districts, a headquarters or rallying place was appointed from which the work of preaching proceeded. The Bishop of Osma, who with Raoul of Fontfroide was the leader of the apostles, actually organized the system and financed it with modest revenues from his diocese.(52) While to all appearances Diego and Raoul were occupied in visiting the different groups in turn, Dominic was definitely assigned to the neighborhood of Fanjeaux-Montréal, the border country of the itinerant mission. It was at this time that he established his preaching center at Prouille.(53) That was in April, 1207.

This orientation of the apostolic enterprise, on a more stationary basis, led to the beginning of other works. It became possible to assemble the converts, whose number had grown during the missions, and whose distressing plight had doubtless become a matter of concern. In organizing his center, Dominic provided a place for the sisters. Berenger, the archbishop of Narbonne, was then at Carcassonne,(54) evidently hoping through his proximity to show a semblance of participation in the apostolate of the legates. Urgent circumstances obliged him to show at least a minimum of good will.(55) Dominic profited by the occasion to ask him to support the new nuns; as religious head of the territory, it was the duty of the Archbishop to defray the expense of the apostolic work.(56) Berenger could not refuse. What he gave was the charter of April 17, 1207. If this document is not the birth certificate of Prouille, at least it is a very close echo of it. It was, therefore, about the month of April, 1207, that the religious house was instituted; preliminary plans for the project apparently go back to the year 1206.


The convent for the sisters took its place among the dependencies of the apostolic organization directed by St. Dominic. Economically and legally (so far as juridical terms are applicable in the case of new institutes), it was not distinct from it and was known by its title, Sancta Praedicatio. This was the title used four months later in the second charter of Prouille, a deed whereby Saris Gasc and Ermengarde Godoline "donated" themselves and all their possessions to the Lord Dominic and all the friars and sisters of the Catholic establishment. The good name and the prayers of the sisters of Prouille were an apologetic support to the word of their brethren; in return, the nuns looked to the Preachers for their prior and their necessary officials. Certain elements essential to a women's community of the period were ensured in that way. In any case, the nature and the importance of the male element in this community were quite unusual. In likeness nearer to the "double monastery" of Prémontré and Fontevrault than to a simple house of nuns, in reality Prouille was of a type entirely original. Something of that stamp was to mark it always, even when the primitive Praedicatio became a real monastery of Preachers.

The foregoing considerations in settling the foundation date have also settled a final question: Who were the founders of Prouille? The answer is easy. If the founder is he who converted the first recruits, united them, undertook their direction, treated with the Archbishop of Narbonne to obtain their first dowry, attended to the construction of their convent, wrote and put in force the Rule for the nuns, and for eight years acted as prior of Prouille, undeniably St. Dominic merits that title. In the first authentic records, he is the only one explicitly mentioned as concerned in these various functions.(57) The fact that be is the only one named in the charter of April 17, 1207, as having converted the nuns and taken charge of their interests, is particularly remarkable. At that date Diego was still in Languedoc. If the Bishop of Osma had played a part comparable to that of Dominic in the foundation, there would have been no reason for not naming him. In 1259, after Humbert of Romans, in the course of an official visit at Prouille,(58) read the primitive documents on which we now rely, he ordered the name of Dominic to be substituted for that of the Bishop of Osma (59) in the legends concerning the foundation, and though his act had the disagreeable aspect of a pious falsification, it was founded absolutely on truth.

Not that Diego did not merit the place accorded him by Jordan of Saxony in the Libellus.(60) The Bishop was also a founder of Prouille, but in another sense. The foundation was made under his authority, certainly with his counsel, and according to his direction and with his help. When he left for Spain, the future of Prouille was one of his concerns.

Foulques ascribed to himself the construction of the convent.(61) The gift of the church of St. Mary and of the land adjacent to it, that of the church of Fanjeaux and its revenues, of the church of Bram and its tithes and first fruits, justify this affirmation. But Foulques was not a founder; he came on the scene only in 1211. Berenger was on hand at the beginning, but the note of compulsion in his one donation would hardly merit for him a title of honor. Moreover, whether his generosity was sincere and whether the church which he gave really belonged to him may be questioned. The monks of St. Hilary soon reclaimed this benefice, which was still in their possession at the beginning of the century.(62) Finally Dame Cavaers, the châtelaine of Fanjeaux, was listed by Percin in the number of the founders. Apparently she had no other title to that honor than her existence and the error which Percin made in supposing that her intervention was necessary. Balme(63) readily accepted Percin's word, because be believed that this lady, alone among the nobility of Fanjeaux, was free from heresy.(64) But Guiraud(65) discovered that she had yielded as early as 1193. There is no room for her intervention in 1207 in a Catholic cause.(66)


1 Laurent, no. 9; Balme, I, 141.

2 Processus (Toulouse), no. 23.

3 Legenda Sti. Dominici, no. 49.

4 Balme, I, 141; Altaner, pp. 36 f.

5 Cf. Jordan, no. 17; Processus (Toulouse), no. 23; Ferrand, nos. 11, 12, 21; Constantine, nos. 48 f.; Laurent, nos. 67, 78; Balme, 1, 171, 187, 470 f.

6 Laurent, no. 11.

7 Ibid., no. 9.

8 For all that follows, see Guiraud, L'Inquisition au moyen age.

9 Cf. ibid., p. 269.

10 Ibid., pp. 290 f.

11 Balme, I, 115 f.

12 Guiraud, pp. 148 f.

13 Ibid., pp. 146-51.

14 Ibid., pp. 227 f.

15 Ibid., p. 150; Balme, I, 131 f., 171-73; 271 f.

16 Guiraud, pp. 353 f.; Jordan, no. 35.

17 Puylaurens, no. 8.

18 No. 22.

19 No. 27.

20 Laurent, no. 6. These interested recruits were not always reliable. In 1220 there was a lay member at Prouille who secretly attended the heretical meetings. Guiraud, L'Inquisition, p. 348; in 1258, Humbert of Romans worked carefully to define their status. Guiraud, Cartulaire de Notre Dame de Prouille, I, 156.

21 Guiraud, L'Inquisition, pp. 326 f.

22 Habitantibus nunc et in perpetuum, "to those dwelling here, now and in the future."

23 Laurent, nos. 5-9.

24 Balme, II, 431.

25 Laurent, no. 5. In 1211 the expression was made more precise (ad ecclesiam, adjoining the church). Ibid., no. 9.

26 Réchac, p. 202,

27 The charter of April 17 is the only one containing definite mention of some who were apart from the others; that of August 15 following makes no further reference to it, nor does any other document except charter 7 ( 1209) and charter 24 (1212) in which the articles restate purely and simply, and not without anachronism, the articles of charter 5, which served as their model.

28 Laurent, no. 11.

29 Cf. Laurent, nos. 5, 7, 8, 11 ff.; Guiraud, Cartulaire, II, 58; Réchac, pp. 196, 205. 80

30 Laurent, no. 7.

31 The Act edited by Réchac was reprinted in Echard, I, 7, n. Q; Mamachi, App., p. 39, but not in Laurent. Charter 4, found in this last collection, is a questionable document proceeding from the Diocese of St. Papoul (Gallia Christiana, XIII, 247), concerning which Guiraud (Cart., I, cccxxxv) remarks that the mere mention of the year 1206 is not sufficient to establish the date. Now this one date is about the only point distinguishing this charter from that of Laurent, no. 11. Further, a reading of the common text leads to the conclusion that it was evidently rewritten and that the addition supposes an earlier text which is none other than that of Réchac; it might be that the Act of St. Papoul was but a document reconstituted after the loss of the deed given by Réchac; such things are not uncommon in the case of such restored documents. Scheeben (Archivum O.P., II, 291-93) disregarded this uncertain document, Dot without becoming involved in some errors of reasoning. It will be noted that Réchac did not publish in full the date of the charter either; but he certainly read the year 1211 on the terrier; manifestly he would have preferred to read 1206 (Réchac, p. 196).
See Laurent, no. 8, the donation of Simon de Montfort "to the house of Prouille, to the prioress," etc. May 15, 1211.

32 Laurent, no. 11. According to canon law, a gift of 90 feet of land extended the right of sanctuary over a portion of the adjacent land. Thus the sisters obtained a piece of land about 150 feet square beside the church. On this their buildings and other possessions would be respected under pain of sacrilege.

33 For the number of sisters, see Laurent, no. 8; on their acquisitions, see nos. 8-59.

34 Abbatia noviter constructa, abb. de novo facta, Laurent, nos. 23 f., 29 f., 32 f 35,42, 45.

35 Nos. 8, 27 f., 47.

36 Nos. 23, 35.

37 Nos. 8, 31, 33 f., 52 f.; according to the custom which included in the church the house for religious.

38 The house for the sisters was founded within the precincts of the great Cistercian mission. During that period Dominic kept in close contact with the Order of Cîteaux. In 1213 be was vicar-general for the Cistercian bishop, Guy of Carcassonne. He was still preaching in the company of the Cistercian abbots or lay brothers (Balme, I, 471; Frachet, p. 76; Constantine, no. 55). Moreover, the Rule of Prouille was thoroughly Cistercian. Taeggio (Chron. ampliss., an. 1206; Mamachi, p. 158) mentions also a tradition saying that the first sisters were vested in the habit of the Order of Cîteaux. Hence it is possible that at the outset, and particularly when the monastic buildings were under construction (1212-13), Dominic cherished the plan of confiding to the Order of St. Bernard the convent of nuns which was already following Cistercian observance. At that time the Friars Preachers did not yet exist; if Dominic were to disappear in this arena of battles, what would become of the monastery? It was but natural to affiliate it to the Order of Cîteaux, which in the early thirteenth century was the great and practically the only educator of nuns (Grundmann, p. 203). Moreover, it was always the desire of St. Dominic to be free from all other responsibilities in order to devote himself more fully to the apostolate (Process-us [Bologna], no. 12).
In view of this consideration, we can understand the use of the name "abbey," when the buildings were being constructed. It is true, likewise, for the title, The Abbey of St. Mary of Prouille: all the Cistercian abbeys were dedicated to Our Lady. In the next decade when the Order of Preachers found the cura monialium more or less a burden, the attempt of William Claret to have Prouille incorporated in Cîteaux was but a renewal of an earlier project (Mamachi , p. 368).
But in 1213 the general chapter of Cîteaux for the first time showed signs of an unwillingness to have the cura monialium. This attitude grew stronger year after year. In 1228 any new incorporation was forbidden (Canivez, Statuta Cap. Gen. O.C., I, 405). Such a reluctance would be more pronounced in the case of a convent among the Albigenses, where the Cistercians had experienced great difficulties. Thus it will be readily understood that Dominic, informed of the decision of this chapter (September, 1213), renounced his plan and established his residence again near Prouille, allowing himself to be appointed curé of Fanjeaux (Laurent, no. 54). Instead of becoming a Cistercian abbey, the monastery of the nuns continued as an independent convent without any change in its form of life.
Scheeben deserves credit for calling attention to this significance of the word "abbey" in the charter of Prouille.

39 Laurent, no. 86; bull Religiosam vitam, March 30.

40 Balme, II, 425-53; Simon, L'Ordre des Pénitentes, pp. 143-53.

41 Laurent, no. 62.

42 According to Jordan, no. 31.

43 De Valens, Le monachisme clunysien ( 1935), I, 380; Balme, II, 458; Humbert of Romans, Sermones (1508), p. 49.

44 Laurent, passim.

45 Ibid., no. 49.

46 "Let the nuns of Prouille be called not ladies, but sisters." Douais, Acta cap. prov. ord. fr. praed. (1894), p. 54.

47 Echard, I, note 2.

48 Réchac, pp. 119, 196 f.

49 Mamachi, p. 160.

50 Martène, Script., VI, 399, 438, 539.

51 Cernai, nos. 26-30, 54.

52 Ibid., nos. 47 f.; Robert of Auxerre (Mon. Ger. hist., Scriptores), XXVI, 271; Jordan, no. 28.

53 At this date Dominic no longer figured as assistant to Diego, but as the head of a company organized by the Bishop. Laurent, no. 5; Jordan, no. 29.

54 Laurent, no. 5.

55 Villemagne, pp. 97-99.

56 Potthast, no. 2103; Villemagne, p. 76.

57 Laurent, passim.

58 The year 1258, according to Guiraud, Cartulaire, I, 255.

59 Acta capitulorum, I, 98.

60. No. 27.

61. ". . . which was reared and constructed by us," December, 1230. Guiraud, op. cit., II, 78; cf. I, 6, 15.

62 Guiraud, op. cit., II, 158-64; L'Inquisition, pp. 343 f. The latter entry must be erroneous; St. Hilary could not have been despoiled already in 1207 by the crusaders.

63 Vol. I, p. 139.

64 Ibid., p. 116.

65 L'Inquisition, p. 291.

66 Scheeben's view is quite different. See his Der heilige Dominikus and his article, "Die Anfaenge des zweiten Ordens des heiligen Dominikus," Archivum O.P., II (1932), 284-315.