The church of Saint Pierre de la Couture in Le Mans is very old and was, during a long time, one of the most powerful abbeys in France: it received several compensations or donations of French lands as well as churches where other abbeys depended on it, like the abbey of Solesmes. It exerted a feudal power over the gentlemen of Maine and even over the bishops, trying always to keep its independence. It was founded in 616 by St. Beltran, bishop of Le Mans, consisting then of a monastery consecrated to St. Paul and a church consecrated to St. Peter. In the 8th Century it became a Benedictine abbey. It was situated far from the fortified ground of the city in the fields of cultivation (Couture = cultivation and, later, divine worship, double etymology of its name). After suffering the Norman attack and a big fire in the 11th Century, it became an immense Romanesque architectural complex thanks to a reconstruction almost complete that was transformed by gothic elements during the 12th Century. In the 13th Century, two towers were added in the occidental part, one of them appearing incomplete today after another fire in 1915. It suffered the One Hundred Years War and the Hugonote attack who took power of the city in 1562. The autonomy of the abbey declined in the 16th Century, since it was subjugated to the king’s authority. During the French Revolution, it lost all its rights of the divine worship, becoming the temple of the Reason Goddess where the party of the Supreme Being was celebrated. In 1801, the Concordat between Napoleon and the Pope allowed the abbey to be a parish church and it took the name of the Parish of Our Lady of La Couture. A part of its annexed buildings was reserved to the prefectoral administration. Its blazon represents the Lys Flower of France and the Three English Lions.
The abbey church is a beautiful church that conserves several rests of its past. In its crypt, we can see the sepulchre of St. Beltran. My paternal grandfather painted it in several occasions and, curiously, my maternal grandfather who was a contractor dealt with repairing its slate roof repeatedly.