Belgian Week of Pathology - Venue

The monastery of Thagaste in Ghent

The monastery of Saint-Stephen was founded in 1296 by the Augustinian monks (Blackfriars). There was considerable financial support from the Borluut family which is depicted in Van Eyck’sworld famous painting “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”.

As so many other European monasteries, this Augustinian monastery had an agitated history. Iconoclasms, the rise of the protestant religion, the French revolution, the industrial revolution, wars … were all historical events seriously affecting the life of the Augustinian monks in Gent.

In 1838 the monastery was partly transformed into a textile factory, a fate of many historical buildings during the industrial revolution. During winter a largefire destroyed a part of the monastery. But Augustinians never give up. Even during the most difficult times they stayed in the monastery: it’s very unique that there always have been monks in the monastery since the very beginning in 1296 until today.

Immediately after the fire, themonasterywas rebuilt in Renaissance – Baroque style with full respect forthe original ornaments.

Thisbuilding as we still know it today has an easy floor plan:a beautiful courtyard surrounded by 4 big corridors or cloisters, giving access to the historical rooms such as the large refectory, guestrooms, calefacts (warm rooms once used for sick or old people) and meeting rooms. On the first and second floor there are many sleeping cells for the fathers and students of the monastery.Last but not least there is the beautiful church, a daily place of meditation for hundreds of visitors.

Walk through the corridors and discover a lot of artwork and large paintings. Just one example: the “The circumcision of Christ” is an important painting of the 17th century which is currently being restored.

 

Last but not least, the monastery has one of Europe’s oldest libraries, a place recently discovered by filmmakers all over the world.  The library has been saved from the big fire thanks to the thickness of the brick walls although traces of this tragic event still are visible today.

Many other monasteries in Europe are closing and get other functions. The situation of the Saint-Stephen’s monastery is quite different. There are still 9 monks living in the monastery andthere is an international program to attract candidate Augustinian monks. More than 20 students from different continents are currently preparing to become a monk in this monastery. A clear sign that the history of the monastery continues.

To open its doors to the outside world, the groundfloor of the monastery has been transformed into a congress centre. Today it has become a meeting point for international events organised by universities, companies and the government.

Feel welcome!

PARKING AVAILABLE: At Sint-Lucas Hospital, entrance : Vogelenzangpark - 9000 Ghent

VENUE: Congrescentrum Augustijnenklooster Academiestraat 1, 9000 Ghen, BELGIUM