Post-classical history

Montjoie, Abbey of

The Premonstratensian abbey of St. Samuel was situated at the traditional site of Samuel’s tomb at the place known as Montjoie (Lat. Mons Gaudii), northwest of the city of Jerusalem.

The foundation of the Premonstratensian abbey was attributed to King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (1118-1131) in a later confirmation of its rights issued in 1185. It seems, however, that Baldwin’s original intention had been to establish a Cistercian monastery house at the site. St. Bernard of Clairvaux declined the king’s gift of the site and an endowment for a foundation, citing the danger of pagan (i.e., Muslim) attacks and the intemperateness of the climate. Bernard passed on the site to the Premonstratensians, who probably settled on Montjoie before the death of Baldwin II (1131); the abbey, however, was only consecrated in 1152 and not mentioned in documents until 1156. According to these, this first settlement of Premonstratensians in Outremer came about with the significant support of the Latin patriarch, Stephen of Chartres, King Baldwin II and Queen Melisende, and also the Templar knight Andrew of Montbard.

The abbey of St. Samuel was a daughter house of the abbey of Prémontré itself. Its abbot had the status of a suffragan of the patriarch of Jerusalem, with the right to a cross but not a miter or a ring. The names of five abbots are known: Theoderic (1145) and Radulf (1156) in the twelfth century, Giles (1220) and John (1235-1263) in the thirteenth, and the undated Hugh. The rights and possessions of the abbey of St. Samuel, including its church on Montjoie, were confirmed by King Baldwin V in December 1185. The abbey fell to Saladin by the end of the year 1187, and it seems unlikely that the Premonstratensian canons ever returned to St. Samuel’s from Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel), where they had taken refuge. Their claim to the monastery’s possessions, however, was restated by Abbot Gervase of Prémontré in letters to the patriarch of Jerusalem and Emperor Frederick II between 1217 and 1227.

The Premonstratensians remained in Outremer after 1263, because two brothers of St. Samuel attested to the confirmation of a document in the house of St. Samuel in Acre on 20 March 1279. It thus seems that the abbey of St. Samuel in Acre probably existed until the fall of the city (19 May 1291).

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!