Route de la Rape

Although outside of Switzerland most people are unaware of the story of Abbaye de Montheron is one of the most fascinating treasure hunts of all time. Today a restaurant occupies the abbey which was constructed in the Benedictine tradition sometime in the 12th Century. The road leading up to the abbey is Route de la Rape.

The Abbey itself is located north of Lake Geneva in the area of Lausanne. It’s a most scenic and idyllic area and offers much for individuals, couples and families. However, if these visitors knew the true history of the area they may think twice about vacationing in these parts.

To understand the story of the abbey and why the road leading up to it is called Route de la Rape we need to return to the early 1100s. The abbey in those days owned a part of the vineyard Dézaley that had been donated by the Bishop of Faucigny Girard, the founder of the abbey. The vineyard produced the finest of white wines, the famous Dézaley grand cru, attracting the jealous attentions of nearby vineyards.

Production increased to such a capacity that almost everybody who lived in Lausanne and the surrounding countryside were employed by the winery. With many workers came other industries. Inns cropped up as well as a theater, brothels and school.

One dark night in 1129 the bishop dropped dead in mysterious circumstances. Yes, he was 114 and yes, he had many problems with his humors. He had gout, lung cancer, emphysema and dandruff, yet the cause of death was recorded as unknown, pending a full investigation. It was later found that the bishop was friendly with a young prostitute called Marie Claire who would visit him after every evensong ‘to make his bed and keep him warm.’ Marie Claire was found dead on the Route de la Rape. The magistrate recorded her death as suicide as a witness recorded “she fell back on a knife which pierced her delicate back.” She was charged post-mortem with the murder of the bishop and her body hung as an example to all prostitutes who were contemplating murdering any of the remaining clergy.

When the prostitutes stopped attending the abbey to warm the clergy and make their beds there was outrage. Young monks were seen walking the hills listlessly. Scribes couldn’t write properly and the new bishop became sallow and depressed.

One night in 1149, four prostitutes complained to their madame about being molested by clergy from the abbey. Thereafter, there were 247 recorded complaints. The madame had an idea. She issued each of her girls with cheese graters and when a monk, bishop or any many of the cloth lifted his cassock or habit the girl would apply the grater to his nether regions and run. By 1151 there wasn’t a single complaint. But this is where the story takes a turn. For a few months there was nothing, then attacks started again. The monks actually liked the grater seeing it as a purge and enjoying the punishment for their impure thoughts. So they resumed their attacks. The girls duly hid their graters much to the anger and disappointment of the abbey’s residents.

But what happened to the graters? Did they simply disappear? Were they stolen? Did the monks find them and use them on one another? For years, French and Swiss archaeologists tried to solve the mystery of the missing graters. Then one stormy winter’s night, a shepherd chasing a lone goat stumbled on a metal object protruding from the ground. It was a grater. He informed the authorities, knowing the local legend. A team was called in and all the graters were recovered having being buried below the surface of the actual path leading from the brothel to the abbey.

The path was renamed the Route de la Rape (rape being French for grater). Small amounts of human flesh were visible on the graters, along with remnants of roquefort and the DNA was dated to the 12th Century confirming the legend was in fact true.

Today the graters can be seen in the restaurant ad hoc museum together with an exhibition on 12th Century clergy’s perversions and rites.

The area is stunning, the story chilling, the wine outstanding, the food excellent.

More info visit http://www.gratedmonktackle.hl

 

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