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Foundation and early development
More fortunate than most monasteries, Lobbes preserved its ancient annals, so that its history is known in relative detail. The monastery was founded about 650 by Saint Landelin, a penitent brigand, so that the place where his crimes had been committed might benefit by his conversion. As the number of monks increased rapidly, the founder, desiring to consecrate his life to austerities rather than to the duties of abbot, resigned his post in or about 680.
He was succeeded by Ursmer, later Saint Ursmer (d. 713), who devoted himself to preaching Christianity among the still pagan Belgae. The fame of Saint Ursmer, his successor Ermin (Saint Ermin; d. 737) and others, including Saint Abel of Reims (d. 764) and Saint Theodulph (d. 776), soon drew large numbers of disciples, and Lobbes became the most important monastery of that period in Belgium. The abbey school rose to special fame under Anson, the sixth abbot (776-800).
About 864 Hucbert, brother-in-law of Lothair II, became lay abbot. By his dissolute life he brought the monastery into a state of decadence, both temporal and spiritual, from which the abbey did not recover until the accession of Francon. He merged the function of abbot of Lobbes with the Bishopric of Liège, which he already held. The monastery was unable to escape from this situation until 960, although the abbey would remained a fief of the Bishop of Liège. In the ecclesiastic geography it was situated in the Bishopry of Cambrai.
The reigns of Abbots Folcuin (965-990) and Heriger of Lobbes (990-1007, a famous writer) were marked by extraordinary development, the school especially attaining a great reputation.
From this period, although the general observance seems to have remained healthy, the fame of the abbey gradually declined until the fifteenth century, when the great monastic revival originating in the Bursfelde Congregation, brought fresh life to it. In 1569 Lobbes and several other abbeys, the most important of which was St. Vaast's Abbey at Arras, were combined to form the "Benedictine Congregation of Exempt Monasteries of Flanders", sometimes called the "Congregation of St. Vaast".
In 1793 the last abbot, Vulgise de Vignron, was elected. Thirteen months later the abbot and the community were expelled from the monastery by French revolutionary troops, and under the law of 2 September 1796 the abbey was dissolved. The monks, of whom at that date there were forty-three, were received into various monasteries in Germany and elsewhere. Most of the monastery buildings, including the Saint Peter's church, were subsequently destroyed. The Saint Ursmer's church remained as a parish church. A few other minor buildings were later incorporated into the railway station.
- Vos, Joachim (in French). (Leuven 1865) Lobbes, son abbaye et son chapitre, ou histoire complète du monastère de Saint-Pierre à Lobbes et du Chapitre de Saint-Ursmer à Lobbes et à Binche: avec cartes, vues et portraits.. http://books.google.de/books?id=-moBAAAAYAAJ (Leuven 1865).