The Carmel of Cornillon
On August 7th, 2017, a thanksgiving celebration was held at the sanctuary to thank the Carmelite sisters for their presence in Cornillon for so long. They remain few of them and quite elderly, they have left their beloved community to join another carmelite community or the care home.
Foundation history of Carmel of Cornillon
In 1856, Father Stiennon, priest of Chênée, made a commitment to admit a young girl to the Carmel of Potay in Liège, whose family he had met on a pilgrimage to Rome. He had not foreseen the response of the nuns: their convent was complete and only the prospect of a new foundation could allow additional admissions.
Mr. Stiennon confided his embarrassment to Bishop of Montpellier who immediately accepted the idea of a new Carmel to be established in his diocese, provided it was not in Liège. The Carmelites, informed by the bishop himself, approved the proposal.
Two years passed without a suitable property being found. Mother Marie-Alphonse, from the convent of Potay, who had been designated as the founder of the new community, then had the thought of “Cornillon raised by a Carmel”
“I cannot let this expression pass without expressing the bitterness that many of the faithful feel about the fact that the 12th century chorus, in front of which Julienne prayed, is inaccessible, even to the public.
The excellent Catholic journalist Bishop Schyrgens wrote: “The ancient sanctuary of Cornillon, preserved in its primitive aspect, where the sky opened up to Julienne’s ecstatic gaze, is guarded by the angels of Carmel, and, from far and wide, the solitude of the Liège Paray-le-Monial sees some foreign pilgrims coming, attracted by this famous, surprised by the present silence. Yet it is there that lies the mysterious source from which a river of glory and sanctification has flowed through the world and the centuries. The access to the sanctuary has recently even been protected by a papal fence and the last pilgrims I saw refused entry are the Chinese bishops passing through our city. »
The commission of the civil hospices, heiress of the house of the sick of Cornillon, before selling it, gave the sisters the condition never to establish a hospital or an orphanage there. The bishop, who had not wanted a second Carmel in his episcopal city at first, agreed to make an exception for the precious sanctuary of Cornillon. The establishment was acquired on May 17, 1859. In the meantime, it had been decided to entrust its chaplaincy to the Carmelite fathers; they settled there first before leaving to occupy Vaux sous Chèvremont.
On September 30, 1860, the Carmelites took possession of their recently restored residence with great pomp and circumstance. It was half past four, the weather was superb.
Mgr Gonella, Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Malou, Bishop of Bruges, Mgr de Mercy d’Argenteau, Dean of the Cathedral Chapter, Mgr de Montpellier, Bishop of Liège, the Carmelite Fathers, many clergy and members of the Arch-confraternity of the Most Holy Sacrament of Saint Martin made their procession from the convent of Hope, where the meeting was fixed.
The six Carmelites were each accompanied by a sister of the Holy Family. An innumerable crowd crowded the passage of the procession. There were people all over the place.
The mastery of the cathedral performed the songs of salvation, which was followed by a sermon by Bishop de Montpellier and a solemn Te Deum. The next day at seven o’clock, the nuncio celebrated Mass, at the end of which, accompanied by the bishop and Mgr Malou, he blessed the house and pronounced the closing.
The Carmelites have long since left Cornillon. They have been replaced by a chaplain of the secular clergy. The current high altar of the chapel as well as the two side altars date from 1866, and are a gift from the Montpellier family, on the occasion of the sailing of Mrs Vve Moreau d’Andoy, born Laure de Montpellier. The 12th century choir was decorated with paintings on the same occasion.
After the war, the public chapel was completely repainted and stained glass windows by Louis Grossé of Bruges were placed there. They recall episodes from the life of Saint Julienne. These expenses were covered by resources collected from all over the world, particularly in the country of dollars….
The famous Liège historian of Arlonese origin Godefroid Kurth wrote: “Hovering above the memory of so many agitations that have in no way served social progress and the happiness of individuals, the Corpus Christi survives alone this long and stormy past, connecting Heaven to Earth and reconciling all men in the joy of Eucharistic worship”.
The order of the Carmelites
The Order of Carmel is a contemplative Catholic religious order. Its members are called Carmelites (for both men and women). Their spiritual father is the prophet Elijah. Founded by hermits on Mount Carmel in Palestine at the end of the 12th century, the first Carmelites left their hermitages at the beginning of the 13th century to take refuge in Europe. After many tribulations, the hermit order was transformed into a monastic order. It underwent many reforms, the most significant of which was the reform instituted by Teresa of Avila in the 16th century.
Initially contemplative, the spirituality of Carmel evolves with its return to Europe and the end of the hermit way of life. After the approval of Innocent IV in 1247, the charism of Carmel developed in two dimensions: a contemplative life and an apostolic life (mixed life). The apostolic mission is found in the fatherhood of Elijah, the “prophet of Fire”, venerated from the beginning by the hermits on Mount Carmel. The Virgin Mary, venerated under the name of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is also very present in Carmelite spirituality.
Prayer is a time of which the Carmelite must devote itself. This time of prayer is described in the Rule as a “vigil in prayer”.