Maredsous Abbey is a Benedictine monastery at Denée near Namur in Belgium. It is a member of the Annunciation Congregation of the Benedictine Confederation and was founded in 1872 from Beuron Abbey in Germany.
The foundation was supported financially by the Desclée family, who paid for the design and construction of the spectacular buildings, which are the masterwork of the architect Jean-Baptiste de Béthune (1831-1894), leader of the neo-gothic style in Belgium. The overall plan is based on the 13th century Cistercian abbey of Villers at Villers-la-Ville in Walloon Brabant. The frescos however were undertaken by the art school of the mother-house at Beuron, much against the will of Béthune and Desclée, who dismissed the Beuron style as "Assyrian-Bavarian". Construction was finished in 1892.
The idea of an art school, inspired by that at the mother house, led to the foundation of the School of Applied Arts and Crafts, also known as the St. Joseph School, in 1903. Neo-gothic works of high quality (vestments, pieces of silver, bindings) were produced, destined mostly for the abbey itself. From 1939 onwards, the emphasis changed more explicitly towards the training of fine artists rather than skilled craftsmen. In 1964, after establishing an international reputation, the school merged with the Namur School of Crafts to form the I.A.T.A. (Technical Institute of Arts and Crafts).
The abbey currently makes five varieties of cheese, and since 1963 has licensed its name to Duvel Moortgat Brewery (Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat), who brew three varieties of beer under the Maredsous name, all matured for at least three months before delivery. Although they are brewed outside the abbey, they are made with respect for the Benedictine tradition, and a substantial portion of the profits are donated to charitable causes.
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