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Lo-Reninge (Municipality, Province of West Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-06-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Lo-Reninge - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 27 June 2006

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Presentation of Lo-Reninge and its villages

The municipality of Lo-Reninge (3,317 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 6,294 ha; tourism website) is located between Ieper and Veurne. The municipality of Lo-Reninge was established in 1976 as the merger of the former municipalities of Lo (1,247 inh.; 1,569 ha; including the former municipality of Pollinkhove [620 inh.; 1,381 ha] since 1970) and Reninge (1,083 inh.; 2,290 ha; including the former municipality of Noordschote [356 inh.; 1,055 ha] since 1970).

Lo-Reninge is known as the Town of the Three Bishops.
His Grace Albert Dondeyne (Lo, 1901 - Leuven, 1985) studied in Poperinge and was ordained priest in 1926. He was Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven from 1933 to 1981 and was a famous theologian and philosoph. He supported the aggiornamento and the democratic reforms of the church after the Council of Vatican II (1962-1965).
His Grace Gustave Bouve (Lo, 1902 - Lier, 1989) was ordained priest in 1928 and sent to Belgian Congo, where he was appointed bishop. He spent five years in the small mission post of Lubunda. During the uprising of 1 January 1962, ten of his missionaries were slaughtered. He came back to Belgium in the mid-1970s.
His Grace Urbain Morlion (Pollinkhove, 1894 - Kirungu, 1985) served as a priest for 62 years and as a bishop for 45 years. He was stretcher-bearer on the Yser front during the First World War and later apprentice priest in North Africa; he was ordained priest in 1922 in Carthago. Appointed bishop by Pope Pius XII in 1939, he took for motto sub tuum praesidium (Under Thy Protection). His arms shows on a black background two spreading white birds symbolizing protection and in the lower part a big cross and a yellow star on a blue background, symbolizing Belgian Congo. From 1941 to 1945, Morlion served as Vicar Apostolic in Boudewijnstad (Moba), where the grand seminary trained priests for Katanga and Kivu. From 1959 to 1966, he was Bishop of Kalemie-Kirungu, where he has to endure rebellions and the dead of several missionaries in the 1960-1964 years.

Lo was surrounded in the Middle Ages by a wall defended by four gates; the town was then 400 m in diameter. The Westpoort (Western Gate), dating from the 24th century, is the only gate still visible; it was restored in 1852 and 1991. Near the gate is located a big yew known as Caesar's tree. The legend says that Caesar on his way to Brittania tied up his horse to the yew and had a nap under its shadow.
The St. Peter's abbey of Lo was active from 1093 to 1797; it was destroyed and burned by the Gueuze in 1578-1580 and rebuilt in the first half of the 17th century. The pigeon house was built under Abbot Patricius Fraeys in 1710 on the domain of the abbey. The legend says that when the newly appointed abbot went to Rome, the monks prepared him a surprise for his return; when back, he saw the pigeon house with its 1,132 boxes. The pigeon house was indeed the symbol of feudal power; only the lords of higher rank were allowed to build one.

Noordschote has a monument to the Unknown Zouave, inaugurated in 1951, recalling the sacrifice of a French zouave on 11 September 1914. He was captured by the Germans who forced him to march with them as a human shield. Coming near a French position, he shouted Mais tirez nom de Dieu ce sont les boches ("Shoot for God's sake the Krauts are coming") and was killed by the French with all his enemies.

Reninge had in the past a castle built in Renaissance style in 1627 but nothing has been kept of it. The modern castle of Reninge was built after the First World War. Its facade shows the coat of arms granted to the family Vilain XIII. The family motto, to be read above the entrance gate of the castle, is De Gand Vilain sans reproche (From Ghent Vilain beyond reproach).
Reninge is the birth town of the painter Matthijs De Visch (1701-1765), the most important painter in West Flanders of his time. His works can be seen in museums in Bruges, Damme, Ieper and Bergues (France), in the castle of Belœil and in several churches, including those of Lo and Reninge.

Pollinkhove has the B-17 Monument, recalling the crash of an American B-17 aircraft on 13 January 1943. The plane came from the English base of Chelveston and was hit by the German Flak above Fives, near Lille (north of France). The ten crew members died in the crash. The monument was built by architect Wouter Robbe in the borough De Groenen Boomgaard (lit., the Green Orchard) where the plane crashed. It was inaugurated on 23 November 2003 in the presence of five relatives of the plane navigator.

Ivan Sache, 27 June 2006

Flag of Lo-Reninge

The flag of Lo-Reninge is white with a black double-headed eagle surmounted with a yellow shield charged with a black lion.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel [w2v02], the flag and arms of Lo-Reninge, adopted on 5 September 1984 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by a Decree issued on 7 July 1987 by the Executive of Flanders and published on 3 December 1987 in the Belgian official gazette.
The flag reproduces the dexter part of the municipal arms, which are the arms of the former municipality of Lo.
The senester part of the arms of Lo-Reninge reproduces the arms of the former municipality of Reninge, "Ermine an escutcheon argent a fess sable".

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 27 June 2006