Malmédy, Abbey of

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Former Benedictine monastery in the Diocese of liÈge in the Province of Liège, Belgium (Latin Malmundariense ). The abbey was founded on the banks of the Ambleve near the forest of the Ardennes c. 650 by Sigebert III of Austrasia, at the instance of St. Remaclus of Aquitaine (d. 672), former monk of luxeuil and former abbot of solignac. The church was dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, Our Lady, and St. John the Baptist. At a site near Malmédy, Remaclus simultaneously created the sister abbey of stavelot. This double monastery, embracing a territory 12 miles in circumference, first followed the Columban-Benedictine Rule. A single abbot generally ruled both monasteries, but in the course of centuries the primacy was disputed between the two communities. In 862 lothair ii began to distribute the considerable goods of the double abbey and to name lay abbots. St. Odilo, monk of gorze and then abbot of Stavelot-Malmédy (938954) introduced the monastic reform, and Emperor otto i granted the monks freedom to elect their abbot. Abbot Werinfrid (954980) obtained from Bp. Notker of Liège a charter that promoted the supremacy of Stavelot over Malmédy.

When Malmédy was restored and reconstituted, the Council of Ingelheim in 980 imposed on both monasteries a single abbot who was chosen by the monks of Stavelot. From 1020 to 1048, poppo, first auxiliary to Richard of Saint-Vanne (d. 1046), ruled the double abbey and distinguished himself by his reforming activity in Belgium and Germany. The monastery entered a period of intense artistic and literary activity during the 11th century. In the following century, Abbot wibald maintained discipline, continued the abbey's literary activity, and put its finances on a solid footing, serving at the same time as an imperial administrator. Wibald was abbot also of monte cassino (1137) and corvey (1146); he died on mission to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus, leaving an important correspondence. In the 15th century, the monastery declined at a rapid pace. Under Henry of Mérode (d. 1460) there were only eight monks at Stavelot and nine at Malmédy. In the 16th century the abbey was administered by princes of the House of bavaria and in the 17th century by the Fürstenberg family. Both monasteries were sacked during the wars between the empire and France in 1689. Abbot Nicholas Massin (173137) worked at restoring discipline; and in 1784 under Jacques de Hulin, the abbey church of Malmédy, which still stands today, was consecrated. During the french revolution the monks were expelled, and on Oct. 1, 1795, France annexed the principalities of Liège and Stavelot-Malmédy. The monastery buildings today house a school and a law court.

Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 193539) 2:171920. j. mabillon, Annales ordinis s. Benedicti , 6 v. (Lucca 173945), v. 15, tables. Gallia Christiana, v. 113 (Paris 171585) 3:724. u. berliÈre, Monasticon belge, 2 v. (Bruges 18901955) 2:84ff. n. pietkin, "Vieux Malmédy," Terre Wallonne 2 (1920) 407421. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 15.2:166973. a. delvaux de fenffe, Les Abbés et princes-abbés des abbayes de Malmédy du XII e au XVII e siècle (Tongres 1935).

[j. daoust]