The rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia, adopted in 670 as the sole monastic rule, spread far and wide. The main activities of the Benedictine monks were prayer, manual labour and intellectual work.
Saint Benedict, as patriarch of the monks of Western Europe, stipulated that his spiritual sons should devote themselves to works of piety but he also encouraged study. The abbeys, as incubators of learning, were both citadels of prayer and work centres. Numerous abbeys boasted brilliant alchemists, philosophers and herbalists.
The Fécamp Abbey is a perfect example. The Benedictine monks at Fécamp, as elsewhere, were particularly interested in the techniques of distillation and the study of plants.
The unique geographic location of Fécamp in Normandy enabled the Benedictines to find all sorts of medicinal plants such as angelica, hyssop or melissa, on the cliffs.