Around 1140, Henry, called the Blind, Count of Luxembourg and of Namur, received Leffe in fief from Frederick Barbarossa, King of the Romans. He professed high esteem for the Premonstratensian religious, whom his father Godfrey had established on his lands at Floreffe in 1121 and to whom he himself had been very generous. He wished to see them also established at Leffe, in the church of Our Lady. He actually felt that the secular canons who served it, did not have the spiritual influence that he might have expected. The Count of Namur explained his project to the canons, promising that if they agreed to it, he would provide for them generously. All members of the chapter agreed to the proposed arrangements. Having achieved his objective, the Count gave the church of St. Mary of Leffe with all its dependencies and revenues, to Gerland, abbot of Floreffe, on condition that he would establish the religious of his Order there, under the direction of a prior. He instituted this foundation by a charter. The spirit of faith and humility which appears to have inspired it, does not appear to correspond with the mentality of the Prince who had granted it: after passing the greater part of his life in warlike enterprises and bloody battles, he was struck with blindness and, on reaching extreme old age, did not however renounce force of arms to suppress family disputes.
The following year, 1153, the German Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa confirmed and approved the donation, which was also approved by a Bull of Pope Adrian IV on 22 April 1155 and by Pope Alexander III on 12 May 1178. This having been arranged to the satisfaction of both parties, the new religious community moved to Leffe in 1152, under the direction of a prior and under the authority of the abbot of Floreffe.
The year 1155 witnessed the rise of a new church built by incoming monks on the site of the old one. Over some fifty years, the number of novices had grown to such a point that Jean d’Auvelais, 5th abbot of Floreffe, judged it necessary around the year 1200, to raise the priory to the dignity of an abbey.
From then on and until the end of the XVIIIth century, the house of Leffe always had it own abbots, elected by its own religious, approved by the abbots of Floreffe and blessed by the Prince-Bishop of Liège.
[updated on the 27.10.05]
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In co-operation with the Father Abbot Nys, Albert Lootvoet decides in 1952 to revive the brewing tradition of the Abbey of Leffe by adopting the traditional brewing processes. (read more)