Formerly a Cistercian abbey in Belgian Luxemburg, Diocese of Trier
Orval (AUREA VALLIS, GUELDENTHAL), formerly a Cistercian abbey in Belgian Luxemburg, Diocese of Trier. It was founded in 1071 by Benedictines from Calabria, who left in 1110 to be succeeded by Canons Regular. These were replaced in 1132 by Cistercians from the newly founded monastery of Tre Fontane. Their first abbot Constantine had been a disciple of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, dying in the repute of holiness after fourteen years. Owing to the industry and frugality of the monks, and the competent management of the abbots, Orval became exceptionally rich. In 1750 it owned no less than 300 towns, villages, and manors, and had an annual income of 1,200,000 livres. In proportion to its riches was its charity towards the poor. Under the leadership of able and pious abbots its discipline was always in a flourishing condition, with the exception of a short period towards the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the storms of the Reformation raged in the Netherlands. Abbot Bernard de Montgaillard (1605-28), who was famous for piety and learning, restored the decaying discipline by drawing up new statutes for the monastery. After a short interruption during the Thirty Years' War, the reform which Bernard had introduced was zealously carried out by the succeeding abbots, especially by Carl von Benzeradt (1668-1707), who also founded the abbey of Düsselthal in 1707. The doctrines of Jansenius were espoused by a few monks early in the eighteenth century, but, happily, those that were imbued with them had to leave the monastery in 1725. The abbey and its church fell a prey to the ravages of the French Revolution in 1793. In the literary field the monks of Orval did not distinguish themselves in any special manner. The only noteworthy writer was Gilles d'Orval, who lived in the first half of the thirteenth century. He wrote the continuation, to the year 1251, of the "Gesta Pontificum Leodiensium", which had been written up to the year 1048 by Heriger of Lobbes and Anselm of Liège (Mon. Germ. Script., XXV, 1-129).