L'église du Très-Saint-Sacrement
(Récollets Church & Convent)
The church - formerly dedicated to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary - formerly formed a complex with the rest house located next door to it and was named the Récollets convent, being installed in 1598. The current buildings, however, date from the 18th century. After the Revolution, the monks were expelled in 1798 and the building was abandoned. A new religious congregation occupied the premises between 1822 and 1879 before the old convent became a girls' middle school which subsequently closed in 1888. In 1894, the town of Binche sold part of the convent to a nun from Angers whereby the community of the Ladies of the Blessed Sacrament came to settle there. The sisters lived there cloistered and in poverty until 1976. The church then became a parish and the former convent was transformed into a retirement home.
The church itself was built in 1707 at a time when the ruined former palace of Mary of Hungary was being used as a stone quarry. It is thought that the sandstone rubble used to build the church came from the palace. In the choir there are decorative elements also coming from this disappeared building along with eighteen high columns with Ionic capitals connected by an entablature as well as eight niches surmounted by an escutcheon coming from the palace chapel. The nave was rebuilt in 1767 and the windows were adapted in neo-Gothic style in 1878.
The church was given to the parish of Binche by the sisters of the Congregation of the Most Holy Sacrament for a symbolic Belgian franc when they left the location in 1976.
After the nuns' donation, it was delivered to the care of the non-profit association of the Works of the Deanery of Binche, which did not have sufficient finances to ensure its maintenance. As major work was planned , particularly on the roof, the property was put up for sale for (again) a symbolic euro. Several owners succeeded one another, without investing in the structure of the building or the maintenance of its roof.
Although deconsecrated, the Church of the Holy Sacrament, also known as the Récollets, is an integral part of Binchois heritage. Classified as a monument by the Walloon Heritage Institute since 1976, it is also included in the circuit of the ramparts , established to promote local heritage, under the leadership of the two historical figures who are Mary of Hungary and Charles V.
On Sunday June 10th 2012, the last mass was performed at the church and it closed for good as a functioning place of worship before being acquired by a first owner from Namur in 2013.
By a remarkable coincidence, on the June 10th 2022 (exactly the 10 year anniversary of the last mass) a fire caused extensive destruction to the church destroying the roof. However, the ceiling of the church remained largely intact as can be seen in these photographs.
Since its closure, it was to become a museum dedicated to Africa, then almost became a center for seminars and conferences, and has been transformed into a nightclub. After the arson which ravaged its roof and undermined the stability of the building, it will finally be demolished.