Places of Interest nearby
Location address: 5300, Andenne, Place du Chapitre
Number of texts: 3
The Collegiate church and the Romanesque churches
The Collegiate church (Andenne)
Saint Begga, great-great-grandmother of Charlemagne, when she became a widow, founded a Merovingian abbey in Andenne, circa 692. That abbey comprised seven churches, in addition to two separate quarters. In the 11th century, the monastery was changed into a secular chapter. Secular power required recruitment among the nobility.
That is why the early monastery became a predominantly female Noble Chapter.
In 1762, the seven churches were in a very poor state. The Chapter obtained permission from the Empress Maria-Theresa of Austria to replace them with a single sanctuary. It entrusted L-B Dewez, the official architect of the governor Charles de Lorraine, with drawing up the plans for a new neoclassical collegiate church. The objects discovered in the latter church included the grave of a 12th century saint, a lectern taking the form of a griffin (dinanderie brass from 1510), the stalls from 17th century, the confessionals and pulpit from the C18th, paintings from 17th century and 18th century, including the Massacre of the Innocents (1615) by Finsonius of Bruges. In the Collection and Museum located in the 12 adjoining rooms, objects are exhibited such as textiles, sculptures, manuscripts, prints, funerary monuments from the 16th century to the 20th century, including the Renaissance reliquary of Saint Begga together with religious chinaware from Andenne.
Sainte-Begge collegiate church was built between 1770 and 1775 by the architect L.-B. Dewez. The building is made up of three naves with five bays, a high and prominent transept and a chancel with three bays and polygonal chevet. It has a barrelled roof with lunettes on joists and a tower situated above the chevet. The façade has two levels. The first level features Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature. This level is decorated with two niches with curved pediment placed either side of a moulded arched door and bearing the chronogram for 1773. The second level has pilasters with Corinthian capitals. It has an arched window flanked by two arched niches. This topped by an entablature and triangular pediment. The nave features arched arcades decorated with pilasters with composite capitals. Above these arcades are a moulded entablature and a clerestory. The nave is flanked by vaulted side aisles with foliage key. Lowered windows light the nave, transept and chancel. The arms of the transept end in an apse with three walls. Above the crossing of the transept is a false dome. The chancel with three bays is enclosed by a polygonal chevet flanked by two apses and annexed to sacristies and a chapter room. The chevet is topped by a high four-level tower, capped with a domed roof. Note the interior in the style of Louis XVI, Renaissance stalls (17th century) in the chancel, the marble altars (18th century) and the tomb of St Begge in the transept, as well as the treasury housing the Renaissance shrine of the saint who founded Andenne abbey and who is the patron saint of the town.
Listed (22-021938) - Exceptional heritage site of Wallonia
The imposing neo–classical collegial of Saint Begge built of Meuse limestone is in a beautiful calm square a little apart from the activity of the town. The grand façade has a square before it and is surrounded by patrician houses of which some belonged to the canons that were there from the Middle Ages up to the French revolution.
Saint Begge (pronounced Beche by people in the Ardennes) is the founder, around 692, of the first monastery and hence the town. She was the great grand-mother of Pepin the Short and the sister of Saint Gertrude of Nivelles.
The cult of the patron saint is evident on the inside. On the altar on the left there is a statue of the saint next to her tomb. As she was considered the protector of children, children’s shoes have been placed here and on the tomb to obtain protection and favours.
The church was built under the direction of Laurent-Benoit Dewez, official architect to the Austrian governor, Charles of Lorraine. It is sober and very bright, above all the chancel, which has been painted white. The nave and the sides are grey and await repainting.
At the end of the church is a painting of the massacre of the Innocents by Finsonius (1615), a pulpit, a lectern (1518), and six 19th century paintings depicting episodes in the life of the saint. The treasure and the museum in the annexe of the collegial has the reliquary of Saint Begge, ornaments, sculptures, manuscripts, jewellery, and religious porcelain from Andenne. Every quarter of an hour a fine carillon rings.
The collegial is listed as outstanding Wallonia patrimony.