Location : St. Bernard’s Abbey, Hemiksem

The establishment of the abbey at Hemiksem, named after Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, was the result of the efforts of Duke Henry I of Brabant and after his death by his son, Duke Henry II, who saw the actual foundation of the abbey in 1243, which was confirmed by Pope Urban IV. The monastic community at Hemiksem, like all Roman Catholic clergy in the region, came under pressure in the late 16th century and in 1578, at the height of the iconoclastic movement (Beeldenstorm), the abbey stood entirely deserted for a time.

From 1570 to 1649 the position of abbot was held ex officio by the bishops of Antwerp.

In 1672 most of the buildings burnt down; the present buildings date from the late 17th and 18th centuries. The impressive western facade with tower of 42m high, was completed during the abatiat of Joannes van Heymissem.

The ca 30 monks were chased out of their abbey in 1797, the community was suppressed. Their important grounds, estates and rights were abolished during the French Revolution and the church demolished.

In 1836 the surviving members of the community bought the recently empty premises of Bornem Abbey and leaving Hemiksem for good, re-settled it as the still-extant Bornem Abbey.
Premises after the French Revolution


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