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Dom Paul DELATTE

Dom Paul Delatte Solesmes

Born in 1848, was prior when Dom Couturier died. Following in his predecessors footsteps, the new abbot’s main priority was to form men seeking God. He was all too aware of the need for enclosure in any serious monastic life and was preoccupied with returning to his monastery. This was achieved on 23 August 1895, when the monastery bells rung forth once again.

But the house was now too small for the community, which had grown constantly. New buildings were therefore constructed quickly and on a grand scale. The foundation stone of the large building overlooking the River Sarthe was blessed on 21 March 1896; this building was completed in 1898. At the same time, two groups of monks were sent to make the foundations of St Michael's in Farnborough, near London (1895) and Sainte-Anne de Kergonan, near Plouharnel, Brittany in 1897.

These peaceful years ended abruptly on 1 July 1901. The law of associations, which was in fact a law against religious congregations, forced Dom Delatte and his monks into exile. With great emotion, they left Solesmes for freedom in England on 20 September 1901. Their place of exile was Appuldurcombe House, in the south of the Isle of Wight. The Juigné family bought the Abbey of Solesmes, with the intention of giving it back to the monks as soon as possible. In 1908, the community moved to the ancient site of Quarr Abbey in the north of the island, where Dom Paul Bellot built a new monastery.

The monks’ silent, peaceful exile gave them the full benefit of their abbot's teaching. They all appreciated his qualities: his brilliant mind, deep goodness combined with a delicate sensibility and, above all, his faith. Dom Delatte made a lasting, deep impression on our community. Part of his teaching was published during his lifetime in his Commentary on the Rule of St Benedict and his commentaries on Sacred Scripture: L'Évangile de Notre Seigneur (The Gospel of our Lord) and Les Épîtres de Saint-Paul (The Epistles of St Paul). Dom Delatte also published what remains an authoritative biography of Dom Guéranger.

He resigned from office in 1921 and died at Solesmes in 1937.