Museum of the Holy Blood

After talking with the sisters about the Holy Blood Procession and how it is such a special day for Brugge, I was determined to return to the Basilica and search out the museum. I had been several times to the Basilica on other trips to Brugge but had passed the museum by thinking there was nothing there I need to know about. How wrong I was! But perhaps this is the perfect time for my visit as I know so much more about the Procession and its meaning to Bruggelings. There were many historical surprises awaiting in this miniature museum about the size of a large bedroom. One was a lace piece done in 1564 of the tube containing the relic of the Holy Blood. This lacemaker is always happy to find lace! There were paintings of the Confrerie of the Holy Blood in 1646 – 31 Noble Brothers of the Holy Blood; each portrait was so distinct, if you knew the person you would surely recognize him.
There was an old Psalter 1500 and the bejeweled tabernacle in which the Holy Blood was housed in centuries past. I learned that the Procession had been forbidden during Calvinist times and for a few years after the French Revolution, but otherwise the Procession has been uninterrupted through the centuries since 1304. Arguably the best story is that elegantly carved circular candle holders were carried in the procession, but they disappeared during the French Revolution in 1799. No one had seen them. (There was a lead box in the museum carefully preserved in its damaged state where the Holy Blood relic was hidden and buried during the French revolution.) A carver was able to recreate the candle holders from paintings of the Procession done before the Revolution and these were then carried in post-Revolution Processions. In 2007, on the British art market, one pre-Revolutionary original candle holder came up for auction. Today’s Confrerie and the City of Brugge allotted and raised money to purchase the original candle holder for Brugge. Now the original candle holder proudly stands under glass in the museum. What a story it could tell?!

HBmuseum candle
One of the exquisite candle holders
HBmuseum lace
HBmuseum tabernacle
The Tabernacle

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