Bois-Seigneur-Isaac Abbey is a former Augustinian abbey, now a Premonstratensian priory. In the 11th century Lord Isaac set out on Crusade and was taken prisoner by the Saracens, but was miraculously freed following a vision of the Virgin Mary. On returning to his lands he built a wooden chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Grace and Consolation, with a statue venerated for nearly two centuries. In 1336 the neighbouring village of Ittre, suffering the Black Death, won permission from the bishop of Cambrai (whose diocese included Brabant) to carry the statue in procession through their village. It was found that the plague abated wherever the statue passed and so the villagers refused to hand back the statue which had protected them so well, finally winning the bishop's agreement to keep it and place a new statue in the chapel of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac.
Better documented is the eucharistic miracle which occurred here on 5 June 1405. On that day, whilst celebrating mass, the parish priest of Ittre found a fragment of the consecrated host in the corporal, which, when he took it in his hands, began to bleed. The bishop of Cambrai investigated the miracle and in 1410 declared it genuine and allowed the chapel to become a place of pilgrimage. Augustinian canons were summoned to the site in 1413 to attend to the spiritual needs of the growing number of pilgrims and the priory the canons established soon became autonomous, becoming an independent abbey in 1416 as the abbey of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, a member of the reformist Congregation of Windesheim.
The small Gothic chapel built over the site of the miracle, which is still the priory church, is the oldest building of the complex and is surmounted by an elegant bell tower. The year 1593 on a keystone shows that it was built in phases, with nearly 200 years between the start and completion of the works. It has a 16th-century ceiling, decorated stalls, paintings of the miracle (1777), a double-naved sacristy, a polychrome statue of the Virgin and Child, a reliquary and a monstrance.
The French Wars of Religion saw the abbey ravaged by the troops of William the Silent in 1580 and the canons forced to flee. Once it was possible to return they did so and rebuilt the abbey, continuing to serve pilgrims until the end of the 18th century. During the French Revolution, Bois-Seigneur-Isaac and all other religious houses were suppressed by the law of 15 Fructidor (1795), and the monks expelled the following year. The local population intervened and although the cloister was demolished and part of the buildings turned into a farm, the chapel survived and was served by a chaplain throughout the 19th century.
When the Republican law of 1903 expelled all monks from France, the canons from Mondaye Abbey lived in exile at Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, buying and rebuilding the abbey ruins, turning the chapel into the monastery's church, and renewing and promoting the local devotion to the Holy Blood. The abbey again became an important pilgrimage and spiritual centre. In 1921 the canons were allowed to return to Mondaye and handed over Bois-Seigneur-Isaac to their co-brothers of Averbode Abbey, who ensured the continuity of monastic life and pastoral services there.In 1957 Bois-Seigneur-Isaac officially became a priory dependent on Averbode.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.