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

In 1844, during the summer, the abbot J. - B. Jourdain, priest of Virelles, went with some fellow-members to an ecclesiastical conference in Rièzes de Chimay. The group followed the old road which crossed the hamlets of Poteaupré and Scourmont. This road curved through woods, but beyond Scourmont, it emerged in front of a large marshy clearing, where the river Wartoise ran. The good priest of Virelles pointed out to his fellow-members that the site was wild, and would be perfect for a colony of Cistercians.

This unexpected suggestion soon led to a project that time transformed.

A few days later, the Prince of Chimay went to Virelles, and visited the abbot Jourdain to ask him whether he knew some priest without fixed occupation which could say the mass on Sunday in the vault of its castle. “Prince,” answered the Priest, “a few days ago, as I crossed the immense clearing that you have in the hamlet of Scourmont, the idea came to me that, on this ground which does not produce anything, one would need Cistercians! They would show the inhabitants of this country what a methodical and persevering work can draw from one of the most rebel grounds. What a good work you would do by yielding this corner of your fields!… And you would have the priest you are wishing for…”

The prince examined this proposal carefully and charged M. Jourdain with opening negotiations with the Father Abbot of Westmalle. Over the next several years, the priest of Virelles tried in vain to make the necessary contacts. He then contacted the Prior of Saint-Sixtus. The Prior accepted the foundation and, the formalities taken care of, appointed fifteen monks to carry it out. The site which was offered to them was on the territory of the village Forges, in the hamlet of Scourmont, 9 km from the small town of Chimay. It had the name of “High marshes”... 

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