Rouge-Cloître Abbey is an Augustinian abbey, founded in 1367. The name Roodklooster or Rouge-Cloître means the Red Hermitage. Apparently, the walls of the original hermitage were coated in crushed tiles, which produced the characteristic colour. The hermitage was built in 1366 by a priest called Gilles Olivier and a layman called Walter van der Molen. William Daniel, a priest of the parish of Boendael, also celebrated Mass there from time to time. The founding charter was witnessed by Jeanne, Duchess of Brabant, on 1 March 1367. Shortly after, some time between 1367 and 1369 and following the example of the nearby priory of Groenendael, the community adopted the Rule of St. Augustine.
The foundation was confirmed in 1373 by Gérard de Dainville, Bishop of Cambrai and the following year was affiliated to the order of Chanoines réguliers de saint Augustin. The community grew quickly. In 1381, construction of the church was initiated, after receiving gifts of land and lakes from the Duchess of Brabant, as well as privileges and tax exemptions.
In 1402, along with other Brabant priories, Rouge-Cloître formed a congregation (or General Chapter) which was led by Groenendael. In 1412, as part of the Groenendael congregation, the abbey joined the Windesheim congregation. These first centuries of the priory were ones of great devotion. It possessed a fine library and developed a notable illumination workshop.
The location of the monastery provided easy access to the sandstone necessary for construction and wood from the forest was used for furniture and heating. Springs are plentiful in the area, the ponds supplied fish, and a water mill on the stream was used to grind grain and press oil. Part of the forest was cleared to provide cattle pasture. In 1400, an enclosure was created which partly survives today.
The white sandstone church is decorated with paintings from Rubens' studio and in the 16th century, the monastery was one of the most prestigious in the Spanish Netherlands, in large part due to its proximity to Brussels. Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Albert VII, Archduke of Austria and Isabella of Spain all stayed there, as well as many other notable personages.
At the end of the 16th century, during the Dutch Revolt, the priory was pillaged and the canons were forced to rake refuge in Brussels until the uprising was over. The abbey was abolished in 1796.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.