|Orval (abbey Our Lady of Orval)|
In one of the most charming and scenic places of the Belgian Luxembourg, in the south of the vast forests of Ardenne, an antique Cistercian abbey rises: it is the Abbey of Orval. The abbey is in Belgian territory, very near from the French border and at an equal distance (10 kms) between Florenville ( Belgium ) and Montmédy (France) near the railroad which skirts the border from Dunkirk to Nancy.
Orval, the Valley of Gold , still deserves its name well. In centuries past, the monks cleared this small valley, located between two forests and covered with bushes, heathers and tall grasses. They cleaned it by clever drainage, and created there a splendid grove whose gently shaded terraces still remain, dominating the ruins which attest to the splendour of the past.
In 1070, say Annals of Trier, the Benedictine monks of Calabria in Italy, weary of the internal fights which covered their unhappy country with blood, driven out of their convent, and maltreated by a violent army, decided to seek a retreat that was far from Italy. They would have gone as far as Germany, where the archbishop of Trier would have shown the way of the Ardennes to them, within his immense diocese. Arnould II, count of Chiny, allowed the monks to settle on his fields. Soon, the high trees fell under their axes, the grounds were leveled, and the monks’ dwellings rose. The first anthems of prayer wafted toward the sky, and God blessed these beginnings full of hope and promises.