Saint Martin's Church


We know nothing of its origins.

It could go back to St. Martin, who is the boss. According to certain testimonies of good faith, it could go back to St Martin, bishop of Tours, 4th century, who is the boss. In the book 'the history of the church in Belgium' by Moreau, on page 308 of the complementary volume (1948), one can find "Montignies lez lens, Parish of the diocese of Cambrai, Deanery of Chièvres" which is quoted in the "Pouilles" (Register of parishes in the 14th century). In addition, a box of Saintes Huiles, which disappeared during the fire of the cure in 1914, bore this inscription: "M.Guillaume Cappel, Curé in 1616....."

The bas-relief of the bell tower like the surname of the church reminds us that the evangelization of the countryside is the work of St Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century.

In 1090, Gérard II bishop of Cambrai granted the first altar in Montignies to the Abbaye St Pierre d'Hasnon in France.

In the Annals of 1862, kept at the Archaeological Circle of Mons, we read in Volume IX page 155 that on the site of the old church whose building materials were once used to enclose the cemetery, the monks of Hasnon and St Denis, decimators of the village (to whom belonged the right to collect the tithe), under the administration of Maître Hénaut de Roisin, Curé, graduate in Theology from the University of Louvain, built a church of the Tuscan order, having 3 naves and 4 bays. The Tuscan order, in architecture, is characterized by Roman brick vaults, columns inspired by the Greek Doric style but with a more sober capital and a base raised by a plinth.

In front of the entrance threshold, there is a large funerary slab, heavily worn by the passage of the faithful (imperial eagle??). It would have belonged to the family of the Lords of Montigny and, as such, predates 1570, the date on which the last representative, Floris de Montmorency, died in Segovia in Spain, where he went to Philip II to implore of the king the grace of the Earl of Hornes, his cousin. As soon as he arrives, he too will be imprisoned and beheaded.

The bell tower is pierced by a semi-circular arch, above which the dedicatory stone bears the 1791 chronogram* The lower part of the tower, closed with hinged doors, serves as a porch. The bell tower houses 2 bells: the smallest dates from 1820, the largest from 1948 weighs 900 Kgs for a diameter of I m 20. It replaces that of 1806 removed in 1945 by the Germans. It was richly decorated: a Christ on the cross with Mary Magdalene at his feet on one side, a Virgin carrying the Child Jesus in her arms on the other. The news carries the inscription that you mourn our bereavements, that you sing our joys, your voice is always sweet, Marcella.

The church is 32 m long and 15 m wide. Its columns are monoliths.

The baptismal font (16th C) is placed in the choir, they have the shape of a ciborium with an octagonal basin. The 8 sides correspond to the precepts of the Christian life: faith, hope, charity, contrition, strength, prudence, justice and temperance.

The oak furniture comes from the Abbey of Cambron. It includes the pulpit of truth (16th) included in the inventory of works of art and antiquities of Hainaut, the confessionals and the altars of the Blessed Virgin and St Martin.

The St Martin donation, in polychrome wood (15 th century), represents the legendary episode of the mantle. A soldier of the Imperial Guard, Martin meets a poor cripple, half naked. With a stroke of the sword, he shares his garment with him. The following night the Lord challenges him and tells him you gave me half of what you had I am now asking you for the rest. Well preserved, this remarkable work took part in the exhibition of diocesan religious art.

The statue of St Eloi is the heritage of a very dynamic local brotherhood.

Eloi lived in the 6th century. He was a goldsmith and treasurer to kings Clotaire and Dagobert. He succeeded St Médard as bishop of Noyon-Tournai. Patron of metalworkers, farriers, farmers, farmers and breeders, his image can be found even in barns and stables.

Among the precious objects, the monstrance is used to present the host. To materialize his Eucharistic body, Christ chose bread, earthly food, fruit of the ears of the earth and the work of man.

The chapel of Calvary is one of the 35 listed in 1957 by Abbé Notté. She is in the cemetery. Large wooden Christ breaking the chains.

Two curious epitaphs (18th c) have been the subject of esoteric research: that of Pierre François Loir, mason, illustrated with a trowel and a rose, and that of Paul Philippe Carlier, ploughman, decorated with a harrow raised.

The presbytery built in 1774 by the monks of Hasnon and St Denis, had a magnificent oak staircase and fine furniture. It was burned down in 1914 in retaliation by the Germans. The 16th century Bible, a 15th century master painting representing the Flight into Egypt, the manuscripts and the archives, as well as the precious box of Holy Oils from 1616 were destroyed by fire and lost forever.

The columns of the ship are made of stone cut in one piece, the bunkers are of semicircular bricks (recovered in 1955-56), the exterior bases are of stone and the rest of brick, the altars of the saint virgin and saint martin and very probably the confessionals come from the abbey of Cambron, the stone of the fonts is octagonal and its foot is of the same shape, this work can date back to the 16th century, mer le curé canivet (1851-1878 ) had two silver reliquaries restored, one of which, Gothic, containing a relic of St. Martin and the other, Renaissance, containing a relic of St. Come and St. Damien.

These saints once had an altar in the church and the monks of Cambron came there on pilgrimage.

The box of holy oils was precious; it represented a building with its chimneys, its roof pierced by 4 windows, st it bore the inscription: "m.. Cappel guillaume, igigj" this guillaume Cappel was a native of Ladeuze and priest of Montignies,

In the pavement of the church we find slabs with inscriptions:

  • Frank,,. Raucq died on 9-11-1709
  • Pierre Béart "on 25-11-1737
  • Pierre Paillot "on 2-3-1739
  • Martin Trivier" on 10-2-1776
  • Joachim François Duhen "on 3-8-1743
  • Marie-Marguerite Carlier "the 176??
  • Jacques Vambré, parish priest "on 14-4-1728
  • Luc de St Moulin "on 17-10-177?
  • Lucas Bastenier "on 4-10-1671
  • Adrien Carlier " on 6-3-1742
  • Jacques Cattier "on 22-8-1741
  • Paul Orrenge ????

it is the same in the walls of the church and the cemetery; there we find an old stone cross and embedded epitaphs.

The furniture

The statue of St. Martin and the pulpit would be from the 16th century, according to flr soil de Morialmë (inventory of works of art and antiquity of Hainaut) ...

Also note the painting representing the descent from the cross,

In 1951, the restoration of the roof and the bell tower proved absolutely necessary. it was raining in the church ... the municipal and fabrician authorities undertook ad hoc steps with the higher authorities which did not succeed until 1954. The work was awarded to Mr. Van Roy, contractor in Aulnois, for the sum of 338.585 Fr 20. They were finished in April

1955. the interior restoration was also essential. It was made from December 1955 to March 1956.

  • Stripping of the vault: jules bete de Soignies.
  • Stained glass: Massy-Lechantre of Tournai.
  • Organs: Joris de Hasselt.
  • Electricity: François Berlanger de Montignies.
  • Painting: Franz Gilquin de Montignies.

This restoration cost 161,358 frs.

To recall the great grace of the March 1957 mission, the tower was equipped with a clock striking the hours, the half hours and the angelus. The installation was carried out by Mr. r. Boël de Templeuve for the sum of 28,440 frs. (the necessary funds, such as those for the electrical installation of the church and the restoration of the Calvary were collected by the concerts of the elves).

In January 1958, the Greek embassy in Brussels donated to the church a reliquary containing a piece of the veil of the Blessed Virgin, a relic of st. joseph and st. Jean Berghmans.

The presbytery

It was built in 1774 by the monks of Hasnon and St.Denis and burned down by the Germans on 25-9-1914. It had a beautiful oak staircase in the corridor giving access to the floor. It was rebuilt in 1919, with the mansard roof that we know. The stone wall surrounding the property was restored in 1955 at the same time as the church.

In the annals of the Archaeological Circle of Mons (Volume IX, Page 155, of 1869) we can read: "On the site of the old church (how it was destroyed, we do not know) whose building materials were once used to enclose the cemetery, the monks of hasnon and st denis decimators of the village, under the administration of master Henaut de Roisin, parish priest, graduate in theology from the university of Louvain, built a church of Tuscan order, having three naves and four bays, with 9 meters for the choir, 19 meters for the vessel and 4 meters for the bell tower, in length and, in width, the heart 6 meters 30, the vessel 15 meters and the bell tower 4 meters.

The bell tower goes one third into the vessel, it is pierced by a semicircular door above which we read: "En Cordibus Excelso Vovemus." (1791).

Under the porch of the church is a remarkable slab with escutcheons, Worn Imperial Eagles. It seems to have belonged to the family of the lords of Montignies, in the 16th century.

The bell tower is surmounted by a dome with 4 sides, it houses two bells: A small one dating from 1820 and a large one from 1948.

The columns of the ship are made of stone cut in one piece. The holds are of semi-circular bricks (recovered at the end of the 1950s). the exterior foundations are in stone and the rest in brick.

The Cementery

It surrounds the church, has a beautiful Calvary chapel (restored in 1957), an old stone cross. A stone-epitaph is embedded in the wall of the church with the inscription: "Pierre-François Loir, Mason, died March 8, 1779 and his wife Marie Waudru Cardinal died December 20, 1742". Three others are in the wall exterior of the cemetery, with the following inscriptions: "Paul Philippe Carlier, ploughman + 12-1-1742" - "J. Bte St Moulin, Charron, + 16-11-1750 and his wife Marie Barbe de Cheure + 4-6- 1735" - "Pierre Paillot, + 11-3-1739 and his wife Marie Dartois + 24-5-1776".

Nowadays, burials are exceptional there (family vaults, etc.). A new cemetery in Montigniez-lez-lens was erected at the exit of the village, rue du Quesniau and was inaugurated in 2006.

Inventory of the heritage of St Martin's Church

The attached link offers you a detailed description (including high resolution photo) of all the religious objects and works of art present in the church of St Martin de Montignies. Some photos also of the terminals and nearby chapels. The inventory as well as the high quality photos date from the early 1970s (BALaT, the IRPA database search engine).