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  • Writer's pictureTammy Lowe


Come with me if you like and I'll tell you a tale.

We're in Brussels, in this big gothic cathedral. I spot a rather odd statue of a couple, and the Virgin Mary, in a rowboat.

With a bewildered look on my face, I point to it. "What's this about?"

The legend goes like this:

It's 1348, Flanders. Where the church stands today, there's a modest guild hall belonging to the crossbowmen with a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady.

One day, the Virgin Mary appears to a young woman named Beatrice. Mary tells Beatrice to go to Antwerp and STEAL a statue of her called, "Our Lady on the Little Stick". She's to bring it back to Brussels because *this* is where she really wants it.

So, the devout Beatrice immediately grabs her husband. They hop in their little boat and row all the way to Antwerp. Once there, she finds the church, steals the statue of "Our Lady on the Little Stick", and runs to the get-away boat where hubby is waiting.

Unfortunately, there's no wind. The boat barely moves. Hubby keeps paddling, but to no avail. The townspeople and the priest are closing in, determined to take their beloved statue back.

And that's when a miracle occurs.

The wind picks up and pushes the little rowboat away. *gasp*

Beatrice arrives back in Brussels and places the statue in the chapel at the Crossbowmen Guild.

Upon hearing about the miracles that took place, people begin to flock to see the statue here. The guild promises to hold a weekly procession, called the Ommegang, and carry the statue throughout the streets of Brussels. Meanwhile, donations pour in from believers and, over the years, they're able to build a bigger church.

In Brussels, the Ommegang Festival still continues to this day.

And there you have it. Your interesting, but useless fact of the day: Beatrijs Soetkes and the Church of the Blessed Lady of the Sablon.

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