All images copyright Alex CF 2014. Please credit and attach a link if used outside this website. 

A wooden effigy of the Madonna with child, emblazoned with gold leaf and lost in the grounds of the Abbey du Cambron. The abbey was founded in 1148 by Anselme of Trazegnies, a canon from Soignies. Within its walls amongst other holy treasures the statue stood, cherished by the monks that resided over the abbey. It is believed the abbey itself was established by St.Bernard whilst visiting, who in a fevered dream, imagined a host of angels. He took this as a sign that the abbey should stand upon these grounds. The abbey was active until 1797, where it was dissolved, and upon its dissolution, contents were sold off, and a Chateau was built in its stead. Much of its original contents was lost. Yet the Madonna was believed to have survived this scouring and still resided there. 

Many have searched for this item for hundreds of years. In the late 1870's, an amateur archeologist managed to prize a series of items from a crumbling mausoleum not far from the ruins of the Abbey. Amongst disintegrating cloth, a number of prizes. A carefully bound relic  - a portion of forearm and hand of an undisclosed saint, the only clue, a reference to Saint Augustine, yet it could indeed be the remnants of Bernard. More likely, it is one of the 44 Abbots who held office there. Beside this a wooden engraving of a haloed saint, portions of pigment and gold leaf still applied. But perhaps the most stunning was the crude statue of the Madonna and child. It was squat and ugly, yet the peering painted eyes of the mother were mesmerizing. Much of the cloth and wood of the vessel were rescued and worked into a box by the archeologist, adding his personal bible to the case, and secreted it away, handing it down through his own family, until sold and authenticated in the early 20th century.