The Abbey of Saints John and Scholastica, better known as the Abbey of Maredret, is a monastery of Benedictine Nuns, situated not far from the village of Maredret, in L’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, Belgium. Founded in 1893 by seven nuns, it belongs to the Congregation of the Annunciation within the Benedictine Confederation.
The foundation of this abbey was part of the monastic renewal in the nineteenth century. It was through the initiative of Agnes de Hemptinne that the project was born to establish a monastery of Benedictine nuns at Maredret, a village which today belongs administatively to the commune of Anhée.
The foundation stone of the abbey was laid on the 5th of August 1891 on a site offered by the Desclée family. Building operations lasted from 1891 to 1936. This imposing neo-gothic edifice, built in handsome quarried limestone, under slate roofs, is situated on one of the hills overlooking the village of Maredret and the valley of the Molignée.
The building of the abbey church was undertaken from1898 until 1907 by the architect Auguste Van Assche (Gand). The furnishings and the stained glass are striking. The claustral buildings are the work of the architects Enseval, Pequet, Soreil and Durieu. The estate, of about 15 hectares, is surrounded by a high enclosure wall of cut stone, embellished with two towers in medieval style.
The abbey grounds comprise also various external dependencies, situated not far from the enclosure wall. St. John’s Close (formerly St. John’s Villa), and nearby St. Peter’s Close (formerly “The Gardner’s House, then St. Scholastica’s Villa), were both built in 1892 by the architect G. Soreil. St. Peter’s Close was enlarged in 1933 to become during several years the Guest Centre (Architect: Brother Maubert – draughtsman of the plans. Responsible for the works, Abbess Cécile de Hemptinne).
The chapel Notre-Dame de Grace, at the bottom of the hill, south side, houses a copy of the miraculous picture of Notre-Dame de Grace, venerated at Berzée since 1909. The construction of this oratory, with stone from a quarry at Denée, was achieved from 1931 to 1938. Architect: Lambotte, master-builder.
The nuns of Maredret are expert in the art of gothique illumination, applied particularly to numerous documents illustrating the important moments in a person’s life: baptism, confirmation, profession of faith, marriage, funeral. Religious imagery plays an important part there, as well as artisanal skill and local creations.