Last modified: 2008-03-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: molenbeek-saint-jean | sint-jans-molenbeek | meulebiek |
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Municipal flag of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean / Sint-Jans-Molenbeek - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 1 July 2006
The municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (French) / Sint-Jans-Molenbeek (Dutch) (locally knownas Molenbeek; in local dialect, Meulebiek; 81,632 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 589 ha) is one of the 19 municipalities forming the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital.
Molenbeek, known under this name since c. 985, is watered by the
Molenbeek brook (in Dutch, "the mills' brook"), which gave its name to
the village nearby. In the Middle Ages, the St. Gertrude source, a
miraculous well said to cure epilepsy, attracted in the village up to
60,000 pilgrims per year. Molenbeek was incorporated to Brussels from the XIIIth century to 1785; in 1578, the suppression of the village church caused the decline of the parish, which lost a part of its
territory transferred to Brussels, and remained rural up to the end of
the XVIIIth century.
In the XIXth century, Molenbeek became an industrial citownty, mostly after the opening of the Canal of Charleroi; several factories and houses were built along the canal between Brussels and Molenbeek. The place became known as "Little Manchester".
In the XXth century, the industrial activity moved northwards to the Canal of Willebroek and Molenbeek declined once again. The French Community purchased the site of La Fonderie and transformed the old factories into the Museum of the Social and Industrial History.
Molenbeek was once famous for the RWDM (Racing White Daring Molenbeek)
football club, which won the national championship in 1975 with only
two defeats. In 1977, the RWDM was defeated by Athletic Bilbao in the
semifinal of the UEFA Cup, after having previously defeated Schalke 04
and Feyenoord Rotterdam. In 2002, the club went bankrupt, was relegated
to the Third League and eventually suppressed. A new RWDM started in
the Fourth Provincial League three years ago and will play next season
in the First Provincial League, following a merging with the club of
The name of the club recalls the three founding clubs:
- Racing Club of Brussels, founded in 1890 in Koekelberg, winner of the national championship in 1897, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1908 and of the first Cup of Belgium in 1912
- White Star, founded in 1909 in Ixelles, whose main player in the 1930-1940s was Arsène Vaillant, later comentator for the RTBF
- Daring, founded in 1895 in Koekelberg, winner of the national championship in 1912, 1914, 1921, 1936 and 1938. On 10 February 1935, during one of the most famous matches of Belgian football, Daring defeated US Saint-Gilles, which had won 60 matches since their last defeat.
Racing and White Star merged in 1963 to form Racing White, which merged with Daring to form RWDM in 1973.
Ivan Sache, 15 May 2006
The municipal flag of Molenbeek, as shown in La Tribune de Bruxelles, # 170, is vertically divided blue-white and
therefore exactly similar to the flag of the neighbours and football
rivals of Saint-Gilles.
The colours are taken from the municipal coat of arms. According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the arms of Molenbeek are "Azure a saint John or". The saint portrayed on the arms is the patron saint of Molenbeek, St. John the Baptist.
The arms were adopted by the Municipal Council on 26 March 1838, confirmed by Royal Decree on 16 May 1839 and published in the Belgian official gazette #378 (1839).
Jan Mertens, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 May 2006