The Basilica of the Holy Blood is perhaps the most important church in Brugge, housing the relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus and where the relic lives when not in the Holy Blood Procession.The Basilica stands across the plein (square) from where the Cathedral of St. Donatians once stood (that is for another blog) and is one of one of the most visited churches in Brugge. It was originally a chapel in the palace of the Count of Flanders Thierry d’Alsace: he who, legend has it, brought back the relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus from Jerusalem in 1150 after the Second Crusade. However the purpose of the Holy Blood, whether or not one believes that it is truly a relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus, is too commemorate Jesus’ death and passion for us sinners and to call us to conversion. Today the church itself consists of two parts, the crypt dedicated to St. Basil which remains as it was built – dark, old except for candle lighting, and warm albeit antiquated. The Basilica (the main church, up a very wide winding staircase where one is warned to beware of pickpockets – a modern addition!) is opulent with silver, icon and painting covered walls, and rococo pulpits and statues. There are wonderful modern chairs perfect for resting a moment and praying. One is admonished to be quiet and reverent especially on Fridays when the Holy Blood is exposed for prayer and veneration and many if not all pass up the steps to the guarded bejeweled relic to utter a prayer and receive a small prayer card. One can easily feel that whatever your worries, needs and concerns, they can be left here with love of Jesus to transform them.
“The call to reflect on the mercy of God and to be merciful to our fellow human beings is increasing. We hope that the grace may touch many hearts in the pilgrimage of the Holy Blood, and may encourage many to a process of conversion.”
This is the call of the Basilica of the Holy Blood to all who pass through its doors.