Saint Avit Sénieur, a town in the district of Beaumont
in Dordogne, is located on a promontory oriented due south.
Its surface area is 2350 hectares. It is very wooded, but
mainly agricultural, producing milk, beef, grains, tobacco and
Saint Avit has been occupied by man, uninterrupted, since
prehistoric times. At the time of the Iron Age the place was
called the Mont d’Auriac and already fulfilled a sacred
function because a pagan temple was later discovered there, it
was said 3000 idols were worshipped.
Over the following centuries the monastery and the inhabitants
of the village suffered many tribulations including three
-1214 by the Sénéchel d’Aquitaine allied with the Count of
Toulouse and the “Albigeois” or Cathares.
-1442 by the English during the Hundred Year War
-1577 during the religious wars. Annet of Commarque took the
village by treachery, massacred the monks, demolished head the
tower of the church and took away the bells, leaving the
Today the village counts
491 inhabitants (official population on January 1, 2017).
The church was classified during the first inventory of
historic buildings in 1862. Thanks to that, the church
profited from several restoration campaigns.
The most recent, from 1996 to 2000, carried out by PH.
OUDIN, A.C.M.H., allowed the church, which had been closed
since 1979, to reopen.
In 1998 the abbey was registered with UNESCO World
Heritage in the context of the Way of St. James of
AVITUS (480 – 570) the legend
Avitus was born of a good family, at Lanquais (12km) he was
enrolled in the armed forces of Alaric II, King Wisigoth, enemy
of the Christians. After the defeat of the Goths at Vouillé (17
km to the west of Poitiers) in 507, Clovis, King of the “Franc”,
conquered Alaric who was killed. Avitus, made prisoner, was
taken to Paris where he was sold to a foreign master who held
him in affection. Avitus became to be treated as part of the
After 14 years of life with this man Avitus had a vision from an
angel servant of god who declared ti him : “Avitus, my good and
faithful servant, you will henceforth be my witness, always have
confidence in me and go and return to the Périgord. At a place
called Ruffiacus, you will find the temple of pilgrims, follow
the sign of the cross, destroy all other idols. There you will
live until you die”.
On his way to find Ruffiacus he perfoned a miracle on a man
named Benoit who had been deaf and dumb, and he gained the
praised of the inhabitants who urged him to stay.
But this man of God went on his way, accompanied by Benoit.
Enjoyed a huge reputation he chose to retire to the Monastery of
Bonneval. He soon became a devout monk, so devout that his
fellow monks became jealous. He then retook the route to the
Périgord with Benoit, visiting his parents at Lanquais.
Benoit died before the completion of the joumey but Avitus met
Secundinus, and together they set off in search of a suitable
cave in which to live. Arriving in a place suited to serpents
and savage beasts. Avitus fell to his knees praying for a sign
of providence. The prayer ended, the ground began to tremble
destroying a temple. This divine sign announced to Avitus that
he was on the right place designed g=for the service of God.
There he lived for forty years accomplishing many wonders.
The presence of a such large church is explained by the no
toriety of the Saint and by the number of pilgrims who passed
“en route pour Saint Jacques de Compostelle”.
Text translated by Pays du Grand Bergeracois (professional translator) and by this partner.