Chimay (abbey Our Lady of Scourmont)
- History of the abbey - the foundation

The monks arrived on July 22nd, 1850. It would be impossible to tell in detail all the challenges, deprivations, and labors they had to face during the first years. The farm which was used by them as dwelling, built for the poor sharecroppers, was not at all appropriate for the regular life of a community. The ground was only quagmires and marshes. Lastly, the climatic conditions were hateful: the frost was felt until July; even during the summer, an unhealthy fog formed and remained until 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning.

At the outset, the monks had to clear the area and then begin constructing their buildings. Their courage earned the admiration of the local inhabitants, daily witnesses to the monks’ tenacity. Thanks to their work, with their spirit of poverty and the money that they collected, by 1863 the monks had finished the construction of all of the regular places. Now, their monastery rose, imposing and majestic in the middle of a land that their sweat had fertilized…

The Pope put, after God, his seal on this work, already so fertile and so full of promises. On September 14th, 1871, the priory of Our Lady of Scourmont was set up in Abbey and on November 21, the Father Abbot Dom Hyacinthe Bouteca, one of the most valiant workmen from the beginning, received the blessing in the conventual church, its work of predilection.

During World War II and the German occupation, Our Lady of Scourmont suffered badly. On May 28th, 1940, came the first evacuation of all the population of the cantons of Couvin and Chimay. On their return, July 3rd, the monks noted the plundering of their monastery. Again expelled on April 12th, 1942, the community took refuge in Momignies, within the Boarding school of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. On September 1, 1944, after the liberation, the community could reinstate its abbey which had been damaged inside. The neglected grounds, the reduced livestock, the disappeared material did not discourage the monks. They restarted work just like in the first days of the foundation, and restored the abbey such as we know it today.

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