Restoration of the choir of the abbey church
The abbey church of Sainte-Marie-Majeure is an exceptional building, cited as one of the finest hall churches ever built. It was designed by the architect Thomas Mordillac (c. 1650-1721) and finished, after his death, by Nicolas Pierson (1692-1765), who introduced the baroque details.
At the end of the Second World War, in September 1944, Prémontrés Abbey was ravaged by a terrible fire. All that remained was a pile of ruins, and the building came close to being completely demolished. It was saved by a charity created by André Grandpierre, Chairman of the local smelting works (Fonderies de Pont-à-Mousson), and almost completely restored. The restoration work began in 1965 and was completed in 1976. The choir was the only part of the Abbey not restored.
To the ravages of war were added the ravages of time, as the abbey church stood open to the elements for almost twenty years after the roof partially collapsed. The walls of the choir were soaked through by the rain and bad weather, and scorched by the heat from the bombings in 1944. The damage was worsening. Some of the decoration was falling off and could have been lost for ever. There were also major safety risks. Consequently, the choir was closed to the public.
In 2013, Prémontrés Abbey’s management association and the Friends of Prémontrés Abbey association came together to launch an appeal for funds to save the choir of the abbey church. In 2015, the Prémontrés Abbey at Pont-à-Mousson Endowment Fund was created.
Four years on, the work is nearly finished. Before the end of 2018, the floor will be repaired and the new lighting put in. We will be organising an official opening in spring 2019 to celebrate the completion of the choir restoration works.