May 3, 2015

1561 BELGIUM (Luxembourg) - Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval


Orval Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval), a Cistercian monastery located in the Gaume region, in Villers-devant-Orval, is well known for its history and spiritual life but also for its local production of the Trappist beer Orval and a specific cheese. The site has been occupied since the Merovingian period, and it seems that there was already a chapel here in the 10th century. In 1070, a group of Benedictine monks from Calabria settled here, and began construction of a church and a monastery, but after some forty years they moved away. They were replaced by a community of Canons Regularr, who completed the construction, the church being consecrated on 30 September 1124.

In 1132, Cistercian monks from Trois-Fontaines Abbey in Champagne arrived, and the two groups formed a single community within the Cistercian Order. Around 1252, the monastery was destroyed by a fire; the rebuilding took around 100 years. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the various wars between France and various neighbouring regions (Burgundy, Spain) had an important impact on Orval. In 1637, during the Thirty Years' War, the abbey was pillaged and burnt by French mercenaries. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the abbey was completely burnt down by French forces, and the community dispersed. Between 1926 and 1948 a new monastery was constructed, and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of abbey. The ruins of the medieval buildings remain on the site and are available to view.

About the stamp, depicting a Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio Machaon), I wrote here.

References
Orval Abbey - Wikipedia
Orval Abbey - Official website

Sender: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Orval (Luxembourg / Belgium), on 31.07.2014

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