Orval (abbey Our Lady of Orval)

- Orval - ground of storms  (2/2)

Recalled by obedience, the Benedictines went back to Italy in 1108, leaving in the County of Chiny the memory of their austerity and their devotion. The Benedictines were replaced in 1110 by regular Canons from Trier; they spent twenty years in Orval, then disappeared. This was in 1130, with Saint Bernard already filling the Church with the reputation of its miracles and holiness. In 1132, the bishop of Verdun, Aibéron, uncle of the Count of Chiny, meeting Bernard at the Council of Reims, apprised him of the desires of his pious nephew, feeling so sorry to see the foundation of Orval abandoned.

Having just made seven successive foundations, the Abbot of Clairvaux had few monks available. He decided to seek help from the elder of its foundations: Three-fountains (founded in 1118, within the diocese of Châlons). Soon a colony of white monks was selected for Orval. They arrived on March 9th, under the control of the Happy Constantin, their Abbot, and the courageous monks soon started the work of restoration. The situation that they found was far from ideal, and during the majority of their existence, they only knew the holy rigors of indigence.

Nevertheless, it was not long before the community entered an era of great prosperity. In spite of the disasters which it knew during wars which afflicted Luxembourg in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was truly thriving by the middle of the 18th century. The monks of Orval then wanted to build a beautiful Monastery, so beautiful that it deviated completely not only from the traditional plan of the Monasteries of the Order, but also from the Cistercian spirit, which advises simplicity and poverty.

A famous architect conceived and started to build an imposing Abbey. Actually, “Orval made its toilet of death”, when the Revolution occurred. In 1793, the sixty monks who occupied Orval had to flee in front of the troops of the General Loyson. Orval, one of the jewels of the architecture of Belgium, center of decorative art where the famous Brother Gilson professed (he was a lay brother, painter of talent), Orval which produced marvellous cast-iron plates, pride of the forging mills of the Abbey, was completely destroyed by the revolutionary hordes. The balls of artillery and the fire shredded the cloisters and the two sanctuaries of Our-Lady and Saint-Bernard. As for the invaluable objects - pieces of furniture, stained glasses, manuscripts, books, jewels, the plunderers were given the responsibility “to move them.”.

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