The Origin of the Name Fontanetum et Lucem

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is from the Abbey at Fontanetum (floating on Springs) in France ... In the affiliation of Clairvaux, the abbey was found in 1119 in the diocese of Autun (today Dijon) by Rainardo, an uncle of St. Bernard, who sent a group of monks from Clairvaux under the leadership of Geoffrey De La Roche-Vanneau. 



An ancient Cistercian abbey in Burgundy, in the Cote d’Or Department close to Semur-en-Auxois; it is located in the borough of Montbard, municipality of Marmagne. In the affiliation of Clairvaux, the abbey was found in 1119 in the diocese of Autun (today Dijon) by Rainardo, an uncle of St. Bernard, who sent a group of monks from Clairvaux under the leadership of Geoffrey De La Roche-Vanneau. The abbey’s arms show gules three bars or, two fleur de lys facing brocade, surmounted by a fleur de lys or. The first site on which the monks settled soon turned out to be too poor and too tight, so they moved to an area close by that was in springs. This they called Fontancium, which means “floating on the waters”. The monks cleared the area, built barns and fish ponds, and erected their monastery. There was an abundance of new vocations, and as early as 1131 the abbey was able to found Les Echarlis (n the diocese of Sens), while Sept Fons (in the Bourbonnais) followed in 1132 and Chezery in Bugey Savoy in 1140.

The abbey of Fontenay suffered the consequences of the wars that devastated the country in the 13th century. During the 100 Years War, in 1359, it was sacked by the English, while later on it was the great companies that looted the monastery and its property on several occasions. This was followed by the institution of the commendatory system, with all its attendant catastrophes. And again, during the Wars of Religion, the abbey was to suffer at the hands of the Huguenots.

The abbey of Fontenay represents one of the most beautiful and most complete groups of monastic buildings from the earliest days of the Cistercian order; and it is the most intact such complex to have come down to us since almost all the buildings are still standing and the majority of them date back to the 12th century.

The church is the purest and most perfect example of the style that St. Bernard envisaged for all churches linked to the mother house of Clairvaux. The façade is very simple and barnlike, with the width of the nave being underscored by two flat buttresses, one on either side of the main west door. The ground plan is a Latin cross, scanned on the inside exclusively by right angles, while rhythm is imparted to the inner space by the rows of piers that divide the nave and the two side aisles into eight bays. The transept comprises a square ended chancel of two bays standing two steps higher than the rest of the nave, and four similarly square ended side chapels opening off the transept arms, two on each side of the chancel. The whole building is covered by pointed barrel vaulting, lengthwise in the nave and transverse both in the transept arms and in the side aisles. Whichever way directs one’s gaze while moving around on the beaten earth floor (originally clad in stone paving slabs or in plain tiles), one perceives nothing but the rhythm, the geometry of forms, the bareness, the simplicity inherent in the materials used and in the definition of space. Colour itself is barely hinted at, as is the plastic definition of the capitals with their stylized leaves or simple geometric figures. A certain number of bas-reliefs are on show in the abbey, and numerous tombstones and gisants which used to adorn the floor of the church and chapels are displayed in the chancel.

In the cloister, the walks that form a rectangle verging on a square, are covered by stone barrel vaults with lunettes marking the arcade openings. Only the west walk is cross-vaulted. Each side is subdivided into eight round-headed arches resting on strong piers reinforced externally by massive buttresses. Each arcade is divided in turn into two smaller round-headed arches resting on paired shafts. The bases, shafts, capitals, abaci, and columns are often cut in a single block of stone. The decoration of the capitals, which is sobre but distinctly richer than in the church, and the studied disposition of the shafts gives the cloister a less severe feel. The vast and well lit chapter house opens onto the east cloister walk through a large round-headed arch, with two other openings to either side of it. Inside, the rib vaulting rests on four central piers that split the room into two aisles; the ribs rest on eight shafts engaged in the piers. As in the cloister, here too the decoration of the capitals comprises simple stylized foliage. The monks’ room, dating back to the second half of the 12th century, lies at the end of the east cloister walk. More sobre than the chapter house, it is split into two aisles of six bays each by a row of four round piers and an octagonal pier in the center. It is covered by rib vaulting that rests on upside-down pyramid corbels along the walls. The dormitory occupies the entire first floor of the monks’ wing. The only access to this room today is via the night stairs located in the south transept of the church. The only features dating back to the original construction are the narrow round-headed windows that look onto the cloister. In the corner of the cloister adjacent to the monks’ room we find the warming house (calefactorium). This is a small low-ceilinged room covered in rib vaults that rest on square piers. The refectory is the only major monastic building to have been utterly destroyed. Originally built parallel to the cloister, it was rebuilt perpendicular to the south cloister walk only in the 13th century. It was a large room covered by ribbed cross-vaulting, divided into two aisles by a row of five piers.

Monasteries adopted the principle of self-sufficiency from the outset, in their determination not to have to “shop around” for the produce that they might need. The forge in Fontenay was a fully fledged “factory” making use of the mineral supply from a nearby hill; it is the most important such building to have come down to us. Built towards the end of the 12th century on the bank of a water channel that provided it with the necessary driving force, it is divided into four rooms. The first, from the west, has ribbed cross-vaulting and communicates via two large arches with the next room, which is the workshop proper and which is not vaulted. The third room is divided into two aisles of three bays each by two central piers and it is rib-vaulted. The first floor of the building was used as a warehouse. The whole building is fitted with a series of solid flat buttresses on the outside and lit by tall round-headed windows.

The abbey is currently the private property of the Aynard family and it has been declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.


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So, Fontanetum et Lucem means "Floating on the waters and The Light" .  Since our church here in White Water is above a massive lake that goes all the way to 1000 Palms and has many Hot Springs emanating from it everywhere, we decided to name it after that famous Abbey in France, The Fontanetum.  Since we are also supported by the Light, Our Creator, we added "Et Lucem" and pray that we have not offended Latin scholars everywhere.  I wanted to call my Latin Teacher, Father Stretch,  from high school but alas, he died a couple of decades ago.  Que lastima. 

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