The Monks’ Refectory
Consecrated in 1778 by His Holiness Jacques de Hubin, Prince Abbot of Stavelot, the Monks’ Refectory is notable for the splendid bas-relief decorations moulded by François-Joseph Duckers, an artist of Liège, who, together with his brother, created the stucco plaster works that adorn the room in 1778 and 1779.
On the main walls, there are four large reliefs representing the founding fathers of the Catholic church, St. Gregory (a crown), St Augustine (a heart), St Ambrose (a beehive) and St. Jerome (a lion). A fine crucifixion decorates one of the shorter sides of the room.
A Madonna and Child stands over the main entrance, and the four virtues are placed above the other doors. To each side of Christ crucified are depicted Strength (a lion) and Justice (the scales), and to either side of the cast iron stove, Prudence (a serpent) and Temperance (an elephant abstaining from a fruit being offered). Placed between the stucco pilasters around the room are elegant bas-reliefs medallions depicting the twelve apostles.
The founding of the Abbey at Stavelot is the subject of a relief over the stove, showing St. Remacle conversing with King Sigebert III. Turning to the extraordinary cast-iron stove itself, it was a gift from Prior Don Mathias de Bra in 1709; the coats of arms of both Don Mathias and the Abbey can be seen on the body of the stove.
As a performance space, apart from its decorative elegance, artists will immediately be aware of another of its merits, a very fine acoustic, warm, but not overly so, giving support for the performer and a clear sound to the listener.