Drongen Abbey is a monastic complex on the River Leie in Drongen, a part of the city of Ghent. Formerly a Premonstratensian abbey, since 1837 the premises have belonged to the Jesuits.
In the Middle Ages there were two legends regarding the abbey's foundation in the 7th century. According to one, the abbey was built by a certain Basinus, king of Basotes; according to the other, its founder was Saint Amandus, who also founded in Ghent during the same period St. Peter's Abbey and St. Bavo's Abbey. The first occupants were secular canons. The Normans destroyed the abbey in 853 but under Baldwin II, Count of Flanders (879–918), lord of Drongen, it was rebuilt.
In 1136 Iwein, Count of Aalst, lord of Waas, Drongen and Liedekerke, founded a Premonstratensian abbey at Salegem. Two years later, in 1138, the new abbey was moved to Drongen, when the canons accepted the Premonstratensian rules.
In 1566 the abbey suffered from the Beeldenstormer (Iconoclasts), and in 1578, during the Ghent Republic, the Calvinists drove out the fathers, who took refuge in the Hof van Drongen, and destroyed the abbey. Its possessions fell into the hands of William the Silent, but were given back by his heirs.
The abbey church was rebuilt in 1638, and the monastic buildings between 1638 and 1698, leaving the abbey much the same as it is now. In 1796, during the French Revolution, the fathers were again driven out, and the abbey suppressed and sold off. Lieven Bauwens installed a cotton mill, which went bankrupt in 1836, and a dyeworks using madder root.
In 1836 the Jesuits bought part of the abbey buildings for the use of their novices, and in 1848 they bought the remainder of the property. The training continued until 1968, when it stopped for want of vocations, but they continued to provide meditations and retreats, for individuals and groups, and thus the abbey became a retreat centre. Older Jesuits continued to live there, and the abbey also became a Jesuit retirement home.
The octagonal abbey church in white stone, with a small cupola, was rebuilt in 1734 after a fire. Known as St. Gerolf's Church, it now serves as the parish church of the centre of Drongen.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.