Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bruges & The Holy Blood

(Photo credit: Matt Hopkins)

Here, we see the main altar of the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, built to house a venerated relic of the Precious Blood of Christ. According to tradition, King Baldwin III of Jerusalem acquired the relic in the Holy Land, during the Second Crusade, and gave it to his brother-in-law, the Count of Flanders, Diederik van Elzas (Thierry of Alsace). The Count brought it to Bruges, and placed it in the church on April 7, 1150. Since, however, the first known mention of the Holy Blood in Bruges dates from 1256, researchers consider that the relic was probably taken by the Count of Flanders, Baldwin IX, from Constantinople, during the Fourth Crusade.

(Photo credit: Matt Hopkins)

Above, we see the side altar where the Holy Blood is presented to worshippers; below, the rock-crystal vial containing the relic.
In 1310, Pope Clement V urged the faithful to venerate the Holy Blood. Accordingly, the famous Procession of the Holy Blood was established in Bruges, and the tradition continues to this day. Every year, on the Feast of the Ascension, the relic is solemnly carried through the streets of Bruges, amid historical reenactments of its arrival in the city and vivid portrayals of Biblical scenes. Thousands of people participate; even now, the citizens retain a deep reverence for the sacred relic. As it passes by, the crowds grow still and silent. 


Lucy said...

Magnificent post! Thanks:)

May said...

Thank you!