Orval Abbey

Orval, 1 - 6823 Florenville - Arlon   see map - Contact
The Notre Dame d'Orval abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 located in Villers-devant-Orval, in the current Walloon province of Luxembourg. The abbey is renowned for its history and for the spiritual life of the monks but also for the production of a typical cheese and Orval Trappist beer, in the adjoining brewery. There is a museum and a guesthouse for guests looking for a stay in the name of peace and spirituality.

Orval Abbey History

The first monks who settled in Orval arrived from the south of Italy in 1070. Count Arnould de Chiny, lord of the manor, welcomed them and granted them the land of his domain. Construction of the church and convent buildings began immediately.

For reasons we don't know, these pioneers moved out after about forty years. Othon, son of Arnould, replaced the monks with a small community of Canons who succeeded in completing the construction work begun by their predecessors; in 1124 the completed church was consecrated by Henri de Winton, bishop of Verdun. Immediately afterwards, however, the Canons encountered economic difficulties, a situation that led them to ask for affiliation with the Order of Cîteaux, which was in full expansion at that time. Their request was passed on to Saint Bernard who accepted it. He entrusted the reconstitution of Orval to the eldest of his daughter houses, the Abbey of Trois-Fontaines in Champagne.
On March 9, 1132, seven monks under Constantine's leadership arrived in Orval from Trois-Fontaines. Monks and Canons formed a single community and immediately began adapting the buildings to Cistercian uses. The new church was completed before 1200.

The Cistercians were particularly careful to establish a farm and a forest domain; these forms of work would allow them to live according to their observances. The land immediately around the monastery is poor and unsuitable for agriculture. Already in 1132, the monks received a small domain of about 20 km. from the monastery near Carignan; this would become the centerpiece of their best grange, that of Blanchampagne. In subsequent years, the monks received additional land in donations. Of these lands, it is worth mentioning the Bure-Villancy group, in the Meurthe - & - Moselle region, which would be the center of the steel industry of OrvaI.

For five centuries, Orval has led a hidden life, like so many other monasteries of the Order. During the 12th century, the abbey appears to have been prosperous; from the middle of the next century, calamities would often be his lot for long periods. In 1252 the abbey was gutted by a fire and the consequences weighed on the community for almost a century. Some buildings had to be entirely rebuilt. The state of misery was so serious that for a certain period the authorities of the Order came to foresee the suppression of the monastery.

The ruins of the medieval buildings can still be visited today.

Located within the confines of the Abbey, the Orval Brewery was created in 1931 to finance Orval's massive rebuilding work. He hired lay workers from the start, including the brewmaster, Pappenheimer, who came up with the recipe. Orval beer is increasingly becoming a highly sought after product. At the same time, the Orval brewery wishes to preserve its know-how while remaining true to its values. Its production is entirely dedicated to quality supply and has adhered to the same production methods for over eighty years.

The guesthouse welcomes young people and adults, men and women, groups and individuals for periods of retreat and meditation.

Right next to the abbey is a chalet, which can accommodate groups or families.

For everyone, even a brief contact with the monastery will be an opportunity to perceive, beyond the hard outer layer of the daily routine, the contact with the most authentic spirituality.

Orval Abbey

Time period
  • Middle Ages
  • Belgium, Arlon
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Orval Abbey
  Orval, 1 - 6823 Florenville

Orval Abbey
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