This church was built to serve the Abbey of Nivelles, originally a monastery of Benedictine nuns founded by Itta of Metz, the widow of Pepin of Landen, and mother of Gertrude of Nivelles, the first abbess, in the 7th century. Her remains are buried in a chapel of the church. This structure was built in the early 11th century and consecrated in 1046 by Wazo, Bishop of Liège, in the presence of the Emperor Henry III. It is an example both of Mosan art and of Ottonian architecture.
With the growing membership of members of the nobility among the nuns starting in the 12th century, the community gradually changed its character from its monastic one until it had become a community of canonesses regular by the 15th century, at the latest. At that point, the church acquired its status of collegiate church.
Claudine Donnay-Rocmans writes in the Patrimoine majeur de Wallonie that the interior dimensions recall: "the splendour of the Ottonian liturgy, as people are able to know it from the Abbey of Essen (Germany)".
The westwork has been reconstructed. Its current appearance is the result of a long reconstruction finished in 1984, following severe damage from bombing by the German Luftwaffe in May 1940, in the course of the Battle of Belgium.
Noble Canonesses of NivellesEdit
The noble Chapter of the canonesses regular became very known and had important privileges, Most of the Noble canonesses were daughters of important families.
- Ursule, Countess of Berlo: Abbesse.
- Marie Magdeleine de Montmorency, daughter of John II de Montmorency, prince of Robecque.
- Marie Anne of Grave, granddaughter of Gilles van der Noot, Baron of Carloo.
- Barbe Josephine of Grave, idem.
- Marie Philippe of Grave, idem.
- Marie Albertine de Berghes-Saint-Winoc (1726-)
- Marie d'Oyenbrugghe de Duras
- Marie Isabella de la Tour et Taxis, daughter of Eugene Alexandre, married later to Guillaume Alexandre de Wignacourt, Count of Lannoy.
- Maria Clara de 't Serclaes, daughet of Count John t Serclaes.
- Antoinette Francoise of Arberg, daughter of Nicolas, count of Arberg.
- Marie Josepha Taye, daughter of the Marquess of Wemmel, married to the Marquess of Assche.
- Isabeau-Angélique Van Zuylen, dite d'Erpe
- Helen de Lannoy, daughter of Valentin.
- Anna Maria de Robles, daughter of Jean de Roblès, 1st Count of Annappes, married to Conrad d'Ursel.
- Marie-Francoise d'Estourmel, married to Jean-Francois de Jauche.
- Patrimoine majeur de Wallonie, Namur, 1993, p. 45. ISBN 2-87401-015-4
- Den grooten Brugschen almanak: benevens het hof van syne koninglycke hoogheyt Charles Alexander ... : Voor het schrickel-jaer./ by Petrus de Sloovere
- Jean Charles Joseph de Vegiano, Suite du supplément au Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas et du comté de Bourgogne, Volumes 3-4