Benedictine Abbot
of St.-Denis, Paris


 Abbot Suger Offers a Window
Church of St. Denis, Paris

Adapted fr. E. Livingstone, Oxford Dict. of the Christ. Church, (2nd ed.) pp, 1320-1321


SUGER (c. 1081-1151), Abbot of  St.-Denis, near Paris.

OF humble origin, c. 1091 he entered the abbey of St.-Denis, where he was a fellow-student of King Louis VI. From 1106 onwards, he was active in the affairs of the Abbey. In 1107 he was nominated Provost of Berneval in Normandy and in 1109 of Toury. He was sent by the King on embassies to the papal Curia, and he was returning from a visit to Callistus II in 1122 when he was elected Abbot of St.-Denis.

IN the next year he went to Rome again to attend the (Ninth) General Council of the  Lateran. Throughout much of his life he was an influential adviser of the French Crown, an active administrator of the lands of his monastery, and a friend of monastic reformers. During Louis VII's absence on the Second  Crusade he was one of the regents, discharging his duties with such success that Louis on his return rewarded him with the title of “Father of the Country”.

SUGER'S “Vita Ludovici Grossi” is a primary historical source for his age. His new church at St.-Denis (choir consecrated 1144), of which he has left an account in his “Libellus de Consecratione Ecclesiae S. Dionysii”, was a crucial step in the development of Gothic architecture. His methods of monastic government are set out in his “Liber de Rebus in Administratione sua gestis”.

OEuvres complètes, ed. A. Lecoy de La Marche (Société de l”Histoire de France; 1867), with 12th-cent. life by Père Guillaume, O.S.B., pp. 377—411. Modern ed., with Fr. tr., of his life of Louis VI by H. Waquet (Paris, 1929). Eng. tr. of his “Sancti Dionysii Liber” by E. Panofsky, Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St. Denis and its Art Treasures (Princeton, 1946). F. A. Gervaise. O.S.B., Histoire de Suger (3 vols., 1721). A. Huguenin, Etude sur l”abbé Suger (thesis; 1855). O. Cartellieri, Abt Suger von Saint-Denis, 1081—1151 (thesis; (1855). Studien, Hft. xi; 1898). M. Aubert, Suger (“Figures monastiques”; 1950), with refl. O. von Simson, The Gothic Cathedral. The Origins of Gothic Architecture & the Medieval Concept of Order (1956), esp. pp. 64-141.

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