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Saint-Léger (Municipality, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Saint-Leger]

Municipal flag of Saint-Léger - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 19 0ctober 2005

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Presentation of Saint-Léger

The municipality of Saint-Léger (3,225 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,586 ha) is located in the region of Gaume, 15 km south-west of Arlon and 10 km north of the border with France. The municipality of Saint-Léger is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Saint-Léger, Châtillon and Meix-le-Tige. There is another Saint-Léger in Belgium, today part of the municipality of Estaimpuis.

Saint-Léger is named after the patron saint of its parish church. The devotion to the saint spread short after his death in the beginning of the VIIIth century. Most of the churches dedicated to him must date back to that period. However, in the precise case of Saint-Léger, there is no mention of a village of that name before the XIIIth century; the village was then called Saint-Ligier, a written form that existed until the XVIIIth century.
Léger (Léodegar, Ludgar, c. 615-678), Bishop of Autun, was involved in the troubled political life of his time. He was the councillor of the successive kings of Austrasia Clothaire III, Childéric II and Théodoric. After the death of Childéric II in 673, he attempted to protect Théodoric against the powerful Mayor of Palace Ebroïn. Besieged in Autun, Léger decided to surrender to avoid the sack of the town. Ebroïn pulled out his eyes, lips and tongue and mutilated his body. Two years later, Ebroïn sentenced him to beheading.

In 1368, Duke Wenceslas de Luxembourg and Count Thibaut de Bar granted a chart to the village of Saint-Léger. It seems that the village belonged to the so-called "Common Lands" owned jointly by Luxembourg and Bar. The origin of this odd status, which survived all along the Ancient Regime, is still unknown. According to the chart, Saint-Léger was ruled by the Law of Beaumont, one of the most liberal laws ever set up in the Middle Ages. The municipality appointed itself its Mayor (mayeur) and Municipal Councillors (échevins), who were both administrators and magistrates. The feudal taxes were very reduced compared to the average at the time. The Austrian government suppressed by Decree the last remains of the Law of Beaumont at the end of the XVIIIth century, causing a lot of protest.
The village of Saint-Léger seems to have grow up on a hill dominating the Virton-Arlon road; the place is still called Le Chauffour, probably recalling an ancient lime kiln (four à chaux) built there. The first church, later replaced by a chapel, today a house, and the first cemetary were also built on the hill.
Saint-Léger was nearly suppressed by the black plague in 1636, which probably explains the local devotion to St. Roch. In the XVIIIth century, the village suffered a lot from the Franco-Spanish wars. The domain of Saint-Léger was purchased in the beginning of the XVIIIth century by the family d'Ahérée; the family disappeared in the XIXth century but its house, locally called the castle, is still visible.

Like the other villages of the region, Saint-Léger is famous for its natural environment and former industrial sites (ponds with mills and forges). The cascade of Trou du Pérou is located near the fishery of Châtillon and the David forge.
However, the most interesting natural site of Saint-Léger is made by the two crons of the valley of Rouge-Eau. The crons (from Latin creta, "chalk"; in French, craie) are petrifying sources, very uncommon in Belgium. The crons are listed by the European Directive 92/43 "Fauna-Flora-Habitats" as habitats to be conserved in priority in the Euroeapn Union. The crons harbour a rich fauna (including very rare big lullabies) and flora.


Ivan Sache, 19 October 2005

Municipal flag of Saint-Léger

The municipal flag of Saint-Léger is white with three red flames placed 2 and 1.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was proposed by the Heraldry and Vexillology Council of the French Community as Blanc chargé de trois flammes disposées 2 et 1 occupant le tiers du battant.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms. The Council says that the flames were taken from the border of the arms of the Desmanet de Saint-Léger family (XVIIItn century) and recall the ancient forges; the three flames stand for the three former municipalities forming Saint-Léger.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 19 October 2005