The Order of the Carmelites was founded in the 12th century by a community of hermits on Mount Carmel in Palestine. They were given a Rule by Saint Albert of Jerusalem. Due to the reconquest of the Holy Land by the Saracens, they emigrated to Europe. In French, the female members of the Order are called “Carmélites”, and the male members are called “Carmes”. They devote their lives to prayer and contemplation. They spend their days producing hosts (i.e. wafers) and embroidering liturgical clothing.
Due to the Combes Law (Separation of Churches and State), some of these Carmelites expelled from France settled in Virton. In 1926 they had a large Neo-Romanesque chapel built, the first in Belgium to be consecrated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. The last thirteen nuns left the convent of Virton in 1989. In 1991 the premises became a shelter for women in distress, “La Maison du Pain”.