Alison, The Secret of the fallen angels
- Duration: 90 minutes.
- Price: € 4 per guide + admission tickets separately.
About the not always pious history of St. Peter’s Abbey
Raphael was found dead in St. Peter’s Abbey. Was it an accident? Was it murder? Over seventeen episodes, our digital monk Alison takes us on an exciting and mysterious tour around Flanders’ oldest monument. The search for the murderer of his young friend takes us to places you would never be able to see otherwise. On your way you will see many of the abbey’s beautiful areas: the medieval refectory, the majestic abbey, a beautiful garden and endless attics. You will literally find yourself between heaven and the earth and go from one surprise to the next.
Afterwards pay a visit to one of the temporary exhibitions.
Would the real Alison please stand up?
The virtual guide on duty is a certain Jean François Alison, a monk with Scottish roots (yes, really!) who lived from 1753 to 1823. He is buried at the Zwijnaarde cemetery, close to the castle, which was the alleged country estate of the St. Peter’s Abbey’s abbots; it now has a motorway running very close to it. Like many ex-priests of St. Peter's Abbey, Alison has a memorial stone placed in the southern wall of the church. Extensively damaged, the stone is the one that is barely legible. Coincidence?
Alison was a privileged witness to the final days of the abbey in the aftermath of the French Revolution. He was the manager of the Kleine Comptoir (the ‘Small Counter’) of St. Peter’s Abbey; you could say he was the accountant. When the French occupying forces wanted to confiscate St. Peter’s Abbey’s effects, he stubbornly resisted. French commander Ferrand became his archenemy. His acts of resistance and the fact that at a certain point Ferrand brought his wife and her lady-companion to stay in the abbey drew our attention to him. The idea of making Alison’s ghost rise up was born. The events and people that the eccentric monk mourns, ridicules, gossips and dreams about are historical. We added a leitmotiv of friendship, innocence and betrayal to this historic reality.
For the movie guide we made an historic comic series.
Comic Strip Alison 1: The secret of the fallen angels (Het geheim van de gevallen engelen)
A Benedictine monk and a French army commander become mortal enemies. The war is in-house and the game is subtle. Numbers and inventories are Alison’s weapons. Commander Ferrand houses his wife and her lady-companion in the abbey. They all know what to do next...
At the time, St. Peter’s Abbey in Ghent was the richest abbey in the Low Countries. The abbey was like a small village. It was not easy to find out what it all looked like exactly. How did one get in? Where were the roads? What was the view like? The parish church (a second church next to the abbey), the luxurious abbot quarters and the deanery have been torn down since. The interiors of the refectory and the library, which were furnished according to 18th-century tastes, were completely dismantled. Mark Musschoot’s watercolours effortlessly evoke the atmosphere in Ghent and the abbey of two hundred years ago.
Comic Strip Alison 2: The ransom
May 1794. The French recaptured Flanders from the Austrians. Alison and the wealthy St. Peter’s Abbey in Ghent found themselves in the eye of the storm. The new regime wanted money, pots of money. Alison stubbornly refused to comply. He was taken hostage and deported to Amiens, the city of Jules Verne and the birthplace of Choderlos de Laclos, who wrote Liaisons Dangereuses. In captivity, Alison was faced with a heart-breaking choice... During those crucial times, anything was possible. A new society was established. Alison was one of those who lost out. He triumphantly identified with the Church of the Ancien Régime, which happened to suffer the heaviest blows. He would never learn to stay in line with the French reformists.