Guided tours


Gallo-roman ruins

Gerpinnes, land for long disputed, located in the principality of Liège and the county of Namur, ended up remaining under the obedience of the counts. From the administartive point of view it was the concern of the bailiwick of Bouvignes and its subdivision, the town hall of Biesme-la-Colonoise. For the spiritual matters the parish of Gerpinnes was the concern of the bishopric of Liège. In 1559, it was attached to the bishopric of Namur. In 1872, at the locality " Augette " on the hill facing south , an important Roman villa of the IIIrd century was discovered (located not far from the confluence of the streams Augette and Saint-Pierre) : the villa of " Aggrippa ", a roman notable. This villa had a frontage of more than 90 metres and was made of three central buildings facing the cardinal points. : west, the building of the junior personnel, south that of the masters and on the east side of the hypocaustes, the bathrooms and games. There was also a room in the basement (it can still be visited today) and was used as a cellar. The house of the masters was a combination of small rooms with walls on which the trace of paints could be seen (pink, yellow, red), with a front body furnished with columns of the Doric order and of a height of approximately 5 metres. The quality of the discoverd objects - colonnades, marbles, mosaics, paintings, potteries objects out of iron and glass - makes it possible to deduce that it was a rich owner who is at the origin of the name of the village.

At several places of the village different tombs of the Frank period were discovered.

The villa "Ojète" was twice burnt down, or even sacked. Anyway, after the Germanic invasions, the new owner, preferring a site more suitable for defence, abandonned the valley of Ojète to settle his residence on the height crowned today by the parish church.

The discovery of this villa is of such a value that the state decided to preserve the main part at the study of the scientists and far away from inquisitive glances.

Church St. Michel

At the end of the XIth century, a small stone church of a heavy and massive aspect replaced the wooden oratory which had been built in the VIIth century.

It was dedicated to Saint-Michel and was used as a parish church, not only in Gerpinnes and its hamlets but also in the neighbouring districts of Joncret, Acoz, Villers-Poterie, Gougnies, Sart-Eustache and Tarcienne. This situation remained unchanged until the end of the XIXth century. In 1142, the inhabitants of Gerpinnes who had taken refuge in the church, underwent a seat from Elbes, solicitor of Florennes. The church was invested, burnt as well as the village.

It was rebuilt during the second half of the XIIth century in Roman style ; still preserved are the square tour (20 meters high), the baptismal font and a crypt.

This crypt which was unfortunately inaccessible after the excavations undertaken in the church. Following the work of restauration, it was completely released and opened to worship..

Around the year 1545, the church was destroyed by a fire and the Archives of the Brotherhood of Holy Rolende perished in the disaster.

The church was rebuilt in tertiary ogival style. The vessel was made of four spans and a choir with crypt. (The chorus was located at the present place of the pulpit)

The northern side has preserved its old windows with their square irons. The southern side underwent significant repairs in 1712.

In 1670, a new wooden altar carved in the honor of Holy Rolende was blessed. The dial of the clock was placed in 1737.

In 1770, the church was enlarged and quite strangely in the Renaissance style, at that time extremely in the fashion.

 The old choir, with the crypt, was removed. Later, with the aim of unifying all the building in its general aspect, the last construction was considerabely modified and put in gothic style.

In 1766, the Isabeau bell, belonging to the community and to the parishioners, was remelted by the masters Louis Simon, Joseph Simon and Claude Defôret. The organs come from the Dominicans of Namur ; they were bought for 150 crowns (the district paid 70 crowns and Messieurs de Bruges 80 crowns) ; they were placed by the sior Rifflart de Bouvignes in 1805.

 The Baptismal Font, of roman style, out of freestone of "Tournai" are particularly remarkable and date back to the XIIth century. They are made of a large barrel of cylindrical columns, confined of four released posts, with moulded bases, supporting the tank, this one being surmounted by heads naïvely carved. The 4 posts have now disappeared. For this work of great value, a repair was essential, the posts have been put in their original place. Varied ornaments, on the external circumference, represent Roman arcades and palmettes. These Baptismal fonts are located in the very centre of the church.

We can also notice their splendid lectern, offered by Emile Deglume, craftsman in wrought iron in Gerpinnes.

The mausoleum of Holy Rolende rebuilt after the fire of the church in 1545 , was standing at 4 feet above the ground at the place where the virgin had been burried, i.e. between two columns of the nave and against its altar. It was a die of masonry supporting a flagstone tumulary in sparkling black marble, on which the picture of Holy Rolende was carved and with the following inscription :

Sainte Rolende, daughter of the great Didier, king of La Gaule

My bones lie here. I cure the retention of urine thanks to God's blessing, hernia, blindness and other pains. Beseech me, you who need my intercession. This mausoleum of Holy Rolende, coming from a Mosan workshop of the second half of the XVIth century, stands between two columns, just above the sarcophagus of the Saint at that time burried in the crypt. The small columns in the corner are particularly special.


The relics of Holy Rolende were put in the present schrine by Mgr J. Blasaeux, Bishop of Namur, on the 13th May 1599. Thanks to the generosity of the inhabitants of Gerpinnes and numerous districts in the neighbourhood, it could come out of the workshop of Henri Libert, goldsmith in Namur and cost 553 florins.

It is one of the most beautiful piece of plate that the XVth and XVIth centuries left us.

The schrine of Holy Rolende, made of gilded copper, with numerous silver plates, is of Renaissance style; even if most decorations are of Roman style. The schrine has the shape of a basilica without transept or that of a rectangular sarcophagus with two sides in the upper part ; these are ended on the small sides by two elegant gables.

The body of the masterpiece stands on luxurious mouldings, surmounted by foliages and graceful interlacings, in imitation of watermarks. It is divided in 14 panels separated by projecting pilasters ; on 12 of these ones open niches containing the statuettes of the apostles, with the inscription, on silver, of the name of each of them and an article of the Credo.

The bas-reliefs, in silver, consist in many paintings of an original feature and a surprising finish representing the different main scenes related to the tradition of Holy Rolende : her parents'wedding , birth, vocation/mission, refusal of a suitor, escape abroad, arrival in Gerpinnes, transport of the dying woman, death and triumph.

On one of the sides are represented : saint Guillaume de Gellone, saint François d'Assise, saint Etiennes. In the gables are represented saint Michel, The Church's patron; and saint Hélène, the abbess's patron of Moustier-sur-Sambre, lady of Gerpinnes. At the bottom of the inscription we can read : " Lady Hélène of Huy de Moustié-Gerpinnes decorated this picture in the name of Holy Rolende in 1599 ".

These panels are linked by engraved strips forming golden frames, and decorated by the mask of the Renaissance. The shrine is decorated with silver lilies on gold. On the small sides, we can admire 2 coat-of-arms made of silver and gold on azure : one made of 3 lilies, the other of 3 towers. 2 statues surmount them ; the one of The Savior of the World and the one of Saint Crépin, patron of the corporation of the tanners.

The crest on the top of the shrine and the angles of the Tympanum are made of lilies ornamented with openwork ; we can see 3 statuettes ; the one of Holy Catherine, of Holy Rolende, of Holy Barbe, keeping in her hands the Gospels and separated by 3 small globes that put the finishing touches to the ornamentation.

The brotherhood of Holy Rolende

The brotherhood of Holy Rolende, approuved by the autorities of the diocese, has been existing for centuries. The people who belong to it commit themselves to submit themselves to the status. They have the heart to honour the saint and to attract her protection through a Christian life. The first condition is to be registered on the registers of the Association and to pay a slight annual subscription. The advantages consist in participating to the benefits of the masses muttered for the colleagues, living or not, and in celebrating the funeral orations for the dead members, as soon as their death is notified by Monsieurt le Curé de Gerpinnes.

The church of Gerpinnes celebrates the feast of saint Rolende with a procession of her relics, the Sunday nearest 13th May. Moreover, a second procession with the Holy Body takes place after the great mass, on the Thursday of Ascension day. The great pilgrimage, with its military escort through the neighbouring villages, takes place on Whitsun Monday. An exhibition of the shrine of Holy Rolende takes place in Gerpinnes on Trinity Sunday.


Château d'Acoz

The land of Acoz was already mentioned in the XIIth century as depending on the abbey of Floreffes. The buiding of the fortified town (belonging to the family Marotte) certainly began between the middle of the XVth and the beginning of the XVIIth century. In 1759, the castle was given to the family d'Udekem and then to the family Pirmez in the year 1860.

The family D'Udekem d'Acoz

This family was a very ancient family of Brabant known since the 12th century.

The castle of Acoz was successively occupied by the families : de Marotte in 1573 and de Quiévrain in 1727

In 1759 Catherine d'Udekem inherited the castle of Acoz, from her cousin, the Earl of Quiévrain dead without heir. After his death, his nephew Jacques d'Udekem inherited the domain of Acoz and of Villers-Poterie. In 1858, he resold the castle and the land to Irénée widow of Benjamin Pirmez, mother of Octave, the writer. In 1886, the name " d'Acoz " was added to the name d'Udekem by royal order of Leopold II.

The Memorial to the family d'Udekem d'Acoz in Acoz

In 1976, time of the fusion of the municipalities, the ancient villages feared that their name might be forgotten in favour of the town name.

That's why the family d'Udekem d'Acoz was asked to erect a memorial that would perpetuate the name " Acoz ". The family accepted and financed for the memorial.

It was inaugurated on Octobre 25th 1980 with members of the family, the Royal Band of Acoz, representatives of the historical circle and of the town council and the burgomaster M. Brimant and the local population.

This memorial is made of 2 columns of more or less 2 metres high, in stone, made of different solids.

On one of the stones we can see the coat of arms of the family d'Udekem d'Acoz.

On the top of the memorial, a lion holds in its claws a coat of arms with the name "Acoz".

This document comes from researches undertaken by the 5th and 6th form pupils of the primary school Ecole Notre-Dame de la Providence of Acoz, class of Misses Anne-Marie Deguelle.

The pupils presented the coat of arms to Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde at the castle of Acoz when they were touring the Hainaut for their JOYEUSE ENTREE

At present, it remains from the original fortified square only an isolated tower and two wings, transformed in the XVII and XIX centuries. The main frontage of the castle stands on the south side, hemmed in the south-east by a squared tower of 3 levels and in the south-west by a massive porch preceded by a bridge with 2 arches. The frontage, raised in classical style in the XIXth century, has 11 bays and leans on a heavy base. The oriental side of the castle is made of abode followed by an inferior wing where we can find the rooms of the house and the ancient stables.

On the abode, the motto of the Pirmez can be read " CUTUM MEUM FIDES ". The gardens à la française can be reached through a squared porch in limestone certainly dating back to 1674, as it is written on the nailed leaf.

We can find the Octave Pirmez special room (1832-1883). This writer whose work belong to the romantic stream is the great great uncle of the current owner.

Château "la Tour"

The castle "la Tour" already mentioned in the XIVth century and located rue Albert Ier.

Château d'en Haut

The castle " d'En Haut " built by the family de Bruges in the XVIIth century, was transformed in the XVIIth century. It was bought by the town in 1971 to become the town hall. In the oldest part of the castle panellings and paintings are still kept in memory of a very rich past. The castle stands in the middle of a park with lindens.

Château d'en Bas

The castle "d'en Bas" or Castle du Fourneau, was built by the Desmanet, ironmaster, and transformed into a school by the Canon of Latran (Saint-Augustin college).

The Museum of steps AMFESM

This very old building, erected at the beginning of the XIVth century, remembers to the old Gerpinnois the memory of its name.

It was, as it was called for a long time, the house of the Bailiff. Majestic, with its steps in blue stones, it formerly sheltered the representative of the local power in charge of the administrative and judicial functions.

Here the first local seals was used - it was found in the archives of 1308.

At that time, Gerpinnes had the power of Court of Justice, symbolized on this first seal with the representation of saint Michel, patron of the parish, bringing down the dragon in the right hand and holding the scales of justice in the left hand.

In 1986, the house was bought by the local administration to become the Museum of "Marches Folkloriques de l'Entre-Sambre et Meuse".

Through the many documents and pictures, we can discover the origin and the life of our Marches.

The costumes and weapons, as well as many flags recall the time of the Ist and IInd Empire.  

The museum is open during the period of the Marches, from May to Octobre (except the month of July), every week-end from 14.00 to 18.00, rue de la Regence 6 , 6280 Gerpinnes or on appointment at 071/50.35.65 (Mr. Jean-Pierre LAMORT, curator).

To see other photographs click here
Copyright Syndicat d'Initiative a.s.b.l. All rights reserved.
MAJ 12/08/10