France, Saint-Victor Abbey
Two monasteries, male and female, were founded in memory of St. Victor in Marseille, both of which were founded by the founder John Cassian at the beginning of the fifth century.
Victor of Marseilles lived in the III century and was executed by order of Emperor Maximian for refusing to take part in pagan sacrifices. Monasteries were built at the burial site of Victor and several other martyrs for the faith. The monastery of Saint-Victor in Marseille is considered one of the oldest on the territory of modern France, along with the abbeys of Marmouth in Tours (3rd century, founder of Martin of Tours) and Lerinsky (beginning of the 5th century, founder of Saint Onorath).
In the 9th century, the monastery, the former residence of the bishops of Marseilles, was ransacked during the Saracen raids, and the women’s monastery was completely destroyed and later not restored. The monastery was rebuilt at the end of the 10th century by order of Bishop Onorat II. It was at this time that the church was erected, which has been preserved to this day. In the second half of the 14th century, the abbot Guillaume Grimoire (who later became Pope Urban V) expanded the church building and enclosed it with a fortress wall.
During the Great French Revolution, the abbey was ravaged, and its premises were turned into a barn, prison, and barracks. At the very beginning of the 19th century, divine services were again held in the church, and a few decades later, the entire complex of Saint-Victor Abbey was given the status of a national historical monument. Restoration of the remaining buildings of the monastery began only after more than a hundred years, in the second half of the 20th century.
Among the features and relics of the church, it is worth noting the white marble altar of the 5th century, the statue of Saint Victor, the organ of the mid-19th century, the underground crypt with the tombs of bishops, where one of the main values is kept – the statue of the Black Madonna. From the crypt to the church, this image is raised only during the celebration of the Presentation of the Lord. In addition, the abbey houses a collection of sarcophagi that are recognized as examples of early Christian art. Once the monastery had a large library, but it was lost in the XVI century, only the library catalog has been preserved.