The tympanum of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon Church (or Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon) a Catholic church from the 15th century located in the Sablon district in the historic centre of Brussels, which was patronized by the nobility and wealthy citizens of Brussels. It is characterized by its late Brabantine Gothic exterior and rich interior decoration including two Baroque chapels.
The history of the church goes back to the early 13th century when Henry I (1165-1235), the Duke of Brabant, recognized the Noble Serment of Crossbowmen as a guild and granted them certain privileges, including the right to use a plot at the Sablon/Zavel (a piece of sandy clay land outside the city walls) as an exercise ground. Nearly a century later, in 1304, the guild of the brothers and sisters of Saint John's Hospital ceded to the Guild an area adjacent to the Zavel where the Guild proceeded to build a modest chapel in honor of the Mother of God. This chapel became the chapel of the Crossbow Guild.
Legend has is that the chapel became famous after a local devout woman named Beatrijs Soetkens had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to steal the miraculous statue of ‘Onze-Lieve-Vrouw op ‘t Stocxken’ (Our Lady on the little stick) in Antwerp, bring it to Brussels and place it in the chapel of the Crossbow Guild. The woman stole the statue and through some miraculous events was able to bring it to Brussels by boat in 1348. The statue of Mary was then solemnly placed in the chapel and venerated as the patron of the Guild. The Guild also promised to hold an annual procession, called an 'Ommegang', in which the statue was carried through Brussels. This Ommegang developed into an important religious and civil event in the annual calendar of Brussels.
November 26th, 2016
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