Affligem Abbey, dedicated in 1086, was the most important monastery in the Duchy of Brabant. The abbey of Affligem was probably founded in 1062 by six hermits, a group of knights who repented of their violent way of life. Hermann II, Count Palatine of Lotharingia (1061–1085) and his guardian, Anno II, archbishop of Cologne (d. 1075) are considered official founders. The count Palatine donated the land on which to build the abbey church. The first St Peterchurch was erected in 1083. The Rule of St Benedict was adopted in 1085 and the abbey was dedicated in 1086.
The counts of Brabant, also counts of Leuven, became their protectors (Vögte) in 1085/1086. A number of their family members are buried in the abbey church.
During the 12th century, the abbey became known for its strict observance of the discipline of the Cluniac reforms. One notable monk during this period was John Cotton, whose treatise 'De musica' (c. 1100-1121) is one of the earliest of musical theses, covering the ecclesiastical use of monody in the organum and the roots of polyphony.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux visited Affligem in 1146, where he is said to have had a vision of the Blessed Virgin, in memory of which he gave the abbey his staff and chalice, which are still preserved in the abbey today.
Another eminent monk of this period was Jan of Afflighem, Jan van Ruusbroec's Good Cook in the Victorine monastery of Groenendaal, near Brussels, whose importance in the survival of theology in the wake of the Black Death is understated, as his theological thinking strongly influenced Gerard Groot, who taught Thomas à Kempis.
Several monasteries, among them Maria Laach Abbey in Germany, were founded by the monks of Affligem.
In 1523, Affligem joined the Bursfelde Congregation, a union of Benedictine monasteries formed in the 15th century for the stricter observance of the Benedictine rule. In 1569, the Archbishop of Mechelen became commendatory abbot and exercised his authority through a dean, an institution that lasted until the dissolution of the abbey in 1796.
Archbishop Jacob Boonen introduced the Monte Cassino observance. At his insistence, the Prior of Affligem, Benedict van Haeften, founded in 1627 a new congregation, B. M. V. in Templo Praesentat, which included Affligem and several other Belgian monasteries. It was dissolved in 1654.
In 1796, during the French occupation, the monks were dismissed, part of the buildings destroyed and the lands confiscated. The last dean, Beda Regaus, preserved the miraculous image of Our Lady, as well as the staff and chalice of Saint Bernard. These came into the possession of a Benedictine monk, Veremund Daens, who in 1838 established a new foundation at Dendermonde.
In 1869/70, the abbey of Affligem was re-established. It is now a member of the Flemish Province of the Subiaco Congregation within the Benedictine Confederation.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.