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 famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.