CISTERCIAN MONASTERY SANTA MARIA GRATIA DEI ( formerly Zaydia )
In 1265 the royal monastery of Zaydia was founded by Dona Teresa Gil de Vidaure, the third wife of the King Dom Jaime 1, the Conqueror. She donated the land with baths and gardens which was formerly, according to general opinion, the property of a moorish princess.
The Abbot of Benifazar had nuns from the monastery of Vallbona, a foundation of Tulebras, come to start the foundation. We know the names of the three foundresses, Dona Beatriz Anglesola, Dona Catalina Catala and Doma Guillermina.
In 1266 the second day of the kalends of February, the archbishop of Valencia gave authorization to build the monastery.
In 1708 King Philip V ordered that in all the official documents, the title of “Illustrious” and “Loyal”had to be given to the monastery, due to their allegiance to the Bourbon party.
Through the centuries, the monastery had to suffer repeated floodings, causing much damage.
In 1810, during the War of Independence, as the French troups of General Souchet approached, out of fear that the monastery could serve as a fortress for the French, the general in command locally, Jose Caro, gave orders to demolish it. Having to abandon the ruined monastery, the nuns suffered many trials, finding shelter in different place which received them out of charity.
After having built a temporary building in the ruins, the community was able to return on 12 April 1816. The rebuilding of the monastery was not completed until 1827. Due to insufficient resources, it was nothing like the former monastery in beauty.
In 1837 the law ordering the sale of church property by Mendizabal deprived the monastery of a large part of valuable documents as well as many farms and mills in Valence that belonged to them.
In 1927 the community of Zaydia made the foundation of Our Lady De Font Salutis in Algemesi (Valencia). The first Abbesses, Mother Micaela Maldovi and Mother Navidad Medes, both nuns of Zaydia, gained the palm of martyrdom when they were shot during the religious persecution of 1936 – 1939. During this same war, the nuns had to leave the monastery because it was raided by groups of soldiers. Three nuns were imprisoned for several months; others had to find shelter with different families. The monastery was not destroyed but was rampaged, causing considerable losses and damage, and the sandalwood choir stalls were burned.
In 1954 the community was incorporated into the Cistercians of the Strict Observance
In 1957 a new flood hit the monastery: four young and courageous nuns went down to the darkened church to rescue the Eucharist, going through water higher than the waist. Given the ravaged state of the monastery, the superiors and community decided to relocate to another place, namely, at Benaguacil (Valencia), on 8 April 1965. The church was consecrated by Msgr Salmon, the former abbot of St. Jerome in Urbe, accompanied by the Abbot General, Dom Ignace Gillet, along with the Father Immediate, Dom Buenaventura Ramos, abbot of San Isidro.
After the community was established in the new monastery, both simple and functional, we faced new challenges… finding a good industry. Many possibilities were tried. The result was a number of industries.
Responding to the request of the abbot of San Isidro, our community agreed to receive and form pre-postulants from Angola. On 16 April 1966 the first four arrived. During 9 years we welcomed 11 girls; at the end, only three remained and are the first members of the community of Angola founded by Valserena. It was a hard road for them and for us but, with the help of God, we made it.