Source: Willem Vandenameele
View over the Viroin.
This is a starting point for paragliders..
Vireux-Molhain is located in the Finger of Givet, a strip of 25 km long and 10 km wide which is enclosed on three sides by Belgium. The village is situated on the left bank of the Maas at the place where the river Viroin flows into the Maas. Vireux-Wallerand is located on the other side of the river Maas. Mount Vireux dominates the area called the pays de Vireux or Viroquois.
Residues of ovens, slag and signs of permanent habitation indicate that ironworking industry was already established in this place in the first century. Probably in defence of these economic activities and in order to protect traffic across the Meuse, the construction of military fortifications on Mount Vireux began in the third century. After the military function of this Roman-Frank camp was lost in the fourth century, Mount Vireux remained inhabited until the middle of the fifth century. In the Middle Ages the mountain is again fortified. During this period the three villages Molhain, Vireux-Wallerand and Vireux-Saint-Martin were also created. The Chapelle Saint-Ermel dates back to Carolingian times, the crypt is the oldest part (eighth century).
The oldest vestiges of the Collegiate Church of St. Ermel that have reached us date from the 8th century. It is a crypt in blue stone columns of pre-Romanesque style. The fact that Pepin le Bref was buried there is not confirmed by any known documents.
Founded by Dame Ada, wife of Wibert, Count of Poitiers, in 752 and therefore existing since the Carolingian era, it is considered to be the oldest Romanesque church of Christianity. The building was for a long time a place of pilgrimage where the relics of St. Ermel, missionary bishop of the pagus aduinnensis civitas leodiensis, were venerated and preserved until 1563.
Mr. Hubert de Charleville, correspondent of the Ministry of Public Education for historical works has just discovered in Vireux-Molhain, district of Givet (Ardennes), a register of the old chapter of Molhain which seems to contain documents of quite great importance. It follows from Mr. Hubert's examination of this register that in 752 an illustrious lady named Ada, wife of Vibert Count of Poitiers, a relative of his wife from Pepin le Bref, founded the collegiate church which still exists today. Saint Ermel was venerated there as a secondary patron saint because of the relics of this saint that the said lady Ada had brought there. Emme even endowed this church with the patrimonial goods which it possessed in this place and in the surroundings. Later in 760, Pepin further increased the endowment of the canons of Molhain."
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