Mary and Brugse Belofte

August 15 is the High Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The theology, which I rather like, is Mary revisits the earth, Lourdes, Fatima for example, to call people to her Son, Jesus; Mary with a mother’s heart reassures humanity of God’s love for His creatures; Mary is better able to to revisit the earth and continue her job of mothering the Church and us if she goes into heaven assumed body and all. Assumption, body and all, of course is an honor not accorded to most humans but not unprecedented: Elijah in the Old Testament was assumed into heaven body and all watched by his successor, Elisha. If you are God, all things are possible, as the Bible claims, “All things are possible to him who believes.”  Matthew 19:26

Whatever your theology or lack thereof on this point, it is a Catholic high feast and here in Brugge since the 13th century, 1304 to be exact, there has been a procession, Brugse Belofte. The day dawned beautiful and warm and I started with Mass at the Sint Salvator Cathedral. The confrerie/ brotherhood of Our Lady of the Potterie, an old church in a far away corner of Brugge, were in the first rows of the Mass wearing lush, heavy, deep blue velveteen robes with an oval of Our Lady of the Potterie on the front. This confrerie  carrying candles would join the procession just after Mass. The procession is/was composed mainly of women who were honoring a promise made to Mary in thanksgiving for the answered prayer of the return of their menfolk from one of the  myriad of wars with the French. The tension between the Flemish and French is historic and unending it seems through the centuries, over self government and freedom.The procession is mainly women dressed in medieval robes; the statue of the Virgin, Our Lady of the Potterie, to whom the wives and mothers prayed for the safe return of their husbands and sons, is carried through the streets. Some carry children and nearly all carry rosaries. Upon arrival at  Our Lady of the Potterie church a great candle carried during the procession is offered. This procession although not as long or large as the Holy Blood Procession continues every year unless practically speaking IT RAINS which is why I did not see this procession last year!

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