THE MONASTERY of NOTRE DAME de TOUTE PROTECTION A BUSSY-EN-OTHE (FRANCE) ­

from the original article in DIAKONIA, published in Brussels, Belgium, May 1994.
translated by Colin Williams, Perth WA,

Archives: MaryMartha, volume 3, number 3/4 October 1994

Within the boundaries of the forest of Othe, not far from the banks of the Yonne, in a small village is found the Monastery of Notre Dame de Toute Protection. How can one explain the presence of a Russian monastery in the heart of Burgundy? At the time of the Revolution of October 1917, numerous Russians left their country and came to France. Among them Reverend Mother Eudoxie already secretly a cloistered nun for several years and three other nuns. Mother Theodosie, Mother Blandine and Mother Glaphira met in a large house surrounded by a garden and grounds, given to them by a historian, Mr Eliachevitch, Soon they formed a monastery which they put under the protection of the Mother of God.

When you go into the yard, shaded by six large lime trees full of buzzing bees in summer, you will find on your left an old well covered by a grapeless vine, above which are hidden the bells which call you to prayer from their tower. Near the well is the entrance to the chapel: a former sheep barn transformed into a chapel, full of icons and impregnated with the prayer which is the heart of monastery life: a life dedicated to prayer, contemplation and work. What sort of a life Is led by these women whose number has varied across the years? They are presently fifteen: seven cloistered nuns, two postulants, and six novices. The different nationalities are Russian, French, Swiss, English, Egyptian, give the monastery an international dimension. Since the death of Mother Theodosie (15 September 1992), the new Abbess is Mother Olga.

At the beginning, the four nuns arrived with nothing more than 3,000 old francs and their own good will. Their courage, the charity of their friends and above all the help of God enabled them to overcome difficulties which seemed insurmountable. At first they worked the land, raising cows, goats and chickens. Now the monastery lives from the sales of icons, enamels and work done by a small printing press. They translate from the Greek and Slavonic services into the English language. These translations are sent to all English-speaking countries as well as America, Australia and Africa. The monastery also earns money from paying guests. But the main goal that the community sets itself can be summed up in three ways: to be a witness,to the Orthodox church in the West, to live according to the cenobite rule and tradition, to receive people from all places and walks of life. The nuns do not work in the outside world, they live the complete monastic lifestyle of, for example, benedictine monks.

Hospitality is practiced with an evangelical joy and simplicity. Each visitor (the convent being open to all without restriction) is welcomed like an old best friend. This welcome colours with a particularly warm tone the ecumenical links which are numerous at Bussy, being on the way to Taize. Catholics, Protestants and Anglicans, priests, nuns and brothers, as well as many lay persons are counted among the regular visitors to Bussy. The monastery is part of the Orthodox Archbishopric of the Russian Churches in Western Europe under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and under the direction of Archbishop Serge,

The services are twice a day, morning and evening, except during the principal days of Lent, when they are more frequent; the daily cycle is celebrated almost in its entirety. You feel a great concern for freedom of expression, no excessive ritualism, despite a complete adherence to the traditional liturgy. Chants are in Slavonic, prayers in different languages (Slavonic, French, English). Thus, without fuss, with no publicity ("the more the monastic is hidden, the more they are needed"), live the nuns of the Protection of the Mother of God at Bussy-en-Othe.

Monaster Notre Dame de Toute Protection
11, rue de la Foret, F 89400 Bussy-en-othe. FRANCE
Si vous desirez aider le Monastere, les dons peuvent y etre adresses par cheques
bancaires libelles a: Monastere Notre-Dame de Toute Protection.