Basilica of the Holy Blood, Brugge
Heilig-Bloedbasiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood) was actually one of the few churches in Brugge that we managed to get inside!
The church is popular and was very crowded inside so I couldn’t really enjoyed it with people pushing me everywhere. It’s a pity because I could see that it is a marvelous church consisting of 2 different chapels, the one on the ground floor was built in Romanesque style in 1150 and it is dedicated to Saint Basil while the chapel on the upper floor was built in gothic style and has richer decoration with beautiful murals and stained glass windows. This chapel was destroyed by the French army in late 18th century but was rebuilt again the next century along with the façade and the staircase that connects the two chapels.
Of course most of the visitors come here come to see a silver tabernacle that dates from 1611 and has inside a rock crystal phial that was brought here from Jerusalem in 1150 (other claim that it came from Constantinople in 1204 after the fourth Crusade). Anyway the thing is that the phial suppose to house drops of Jesus Christ blood that was collected by Joseph of Arimathea after crucifixion.
Many pilgrims come here every year to see it, ok to see the phial actually.
There’s also a small exhibition with religious objects, paintings etc but you have to pay 2 euro fee to get inside.
It’s open Tuesday to Sunday 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00 (till 16.00 in winter months)
The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) gets it's name because it houses a vial containing a few drops of what is claimed to be the blood of Jesus Christ. The basilica is divided into two chapels, an upper (in this review) and a lower (St Basil's Chapel).
The blood was supposedly brought here after the crusades in the 12th century and is on display in the upper chapel at 2pm daily for 'veneration'.
The Upper Chapel itself is a beautifully decorated and flamboyant place, with the blood hidden away behind a silver tabernacle. It takes quite some time to work round this small chapel if you are to take in all the decoration of the place.
The Upper Chapel was destroyed by the French forces in the 1790s but was rebuilt in the 19th century, and that is what you see today.
Photography is allowed without flash.
In a small side room at the top of the stairs in the one room museum and treasury for which an admission of €1.50 is payable (the chapel is free). The treasury is eminently missable.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) gets it's name because it houses a vial containing a few drops of what is claimed to be the blood of Jesus Christ. The basilica is divided into two chapels, an upper chapel and a lower (St Basil's Chapel). This review is about the lower chapel.
The Lower Chapel is very different in character to the Upper Chapel. Instead of colour and flamboyant decoration, here we have solid, plain and evocative stone pillars and arches. It seems like a much more holy place than the Upper Chapel.
The Lower Chapel dates back to the 12th century and is Romanesque in style. It survived the 1790s unlike it's neighbour upstairs and houses a statue of the Virgin Mary which is dated to 1300.
“Came on to Bruges by a 1.15. train, triumphantly carrying the baskets with us; arriving before 3. The wind has risen: it was cold and rained a little. I am now hating the thought of to-morrow’s trajet. We walked about Bruges for two hours before dinner at 5.”
— from the 31.October.1873 journal entry of Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1812-1895)
The relic of the Holy Blood is embedded in a vial carved from rock crystal, which is inside a small glass cylinder, and gold crowns decorate each end. The relic is housed in a magnificent silver tabernacle, resting on a finely carved white marble altar (see photos #1 & #2) at a side chapel of the upper chapel.
Each year 50,000 pilgrims flock to Brugge for the Procession of the Holy Blood, which takes place on Ascension Day, 25.May. The bishop of Brugge carries the relic through the streets, accompanied by Brugge residents dressed in medieval costumes, of Brugge’s Burgundian period. The Procession was first held in 1291. Originally following a route around the city walls, in 1578 the raging religious wars forced the route to the city center, which is still followed today. Beginning in the early 15th century, when the Noble Brotherhood of the Holy Blood was founded, its 31 members have safeguarded the relic and its veneration. Members of the Brotherhood must be citizens of Brugge.
“We walked about in Bruges taking leave of its dear old buildings, which were illuminated by the evening glow.”
— from the 1.November.1873 journal entry of Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1812-1895, English translator and business woman)
Brugge’s Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed, in Flemish) houses a venerated relic of Christ: his blood!
Tradition tells us that after the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood from the body of Christ; and that the cloth was preserved. The relic stayed in Jerusalem until the Second Crusade, when the king of Jerusalem, Baldwin III (1130-1163, king of Jerusalem 1143-1163) gave it to his brother-in-law, Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders (1099-1168, count of Flanders, 1128-1168). Thierry returned to Brugge on 7.April.1150; the blood-stained cloth was placed in a chapel Thierry had built on Burg Square.
History tells a different story than does tradition. The first mention of the Holy Blood in Brugge was in 1256. Constantinople, with its large collection of relics, including one of the Holy Blood, appears to be where Brugge’s Holy Blood came from. In 1204, Constantinople was sacked during the Fourth Crusade by the army of Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders. He sent the Holy Blood, part of the booty from the Byzantine capital, to Brugge following the plunder. The style of how the rock-crystal vial is carved indicates that it came from Constantinople.
The upper chapel was originally Romanesque as is the lower chapel, but is now Gothic. It is lit by stained glass windows and covered with murals, including a brightly painted altar backdrop depicting the Trinity and scenes relating to the Holy Blood relic. The murals and many of the stained glass windows date to renovations made in the 19th century.
The lower chapel, dedicated to St Basil, holds the distinction of being the only Romanesque church in West Flanders. Dating from 1150, it was built by Thierry, Count of Alsace (1099-1168, count of Flanders, 1128-1168) to house a relic of its patron, a Greek theologian.
To the left of the choir is the Chapel of Saint Yves, added in 1504. It houses the relics of Saint Basil and the tomb the assassinated Charles the Good, the Count of Flanders.
“Another great treat we had to-day was in visiting the Chapelle du Sang de Dieu, a wonderful little place: also the Jerusalem, which is in all respects a facsimile of the Holy Sepulchre at Palestine.”
— from a letter by Dante Rossetti dated 25.October.1849, sent from Hotel du Commerce, Bruges
Located in the right-hand corner of Burg Square (as you face the square), the Basilica of the Holy Blood, dating from 1150, is made up of a Romanesque lower chapel and a Gothic upper chapel. Two levels are strikingly different: the Romanesque lower level is austere with little ornamentation, whereas the Gothic upper level is pulses with colorful detail.
The two chapels are connected by a grand brick staircase, which climbs behind the grand façade facing the square. Today’s stairs and façade are a 19th-century reconstruction of the 1533 Renaissance versions, where were demolished during the French occupation following the French Revolution.
At the top are gilded bronze angels. The lower statues are of the Dukes and Duchesses of Flanders (see photos #1 & #2). From left, they are: Archduchess Isabella, Infanta of Spain (1566-1633) and Albert VII Archduke of Austria (1559-1621, in the medallion); Mary, Archduchess of Burgundy (1457-1482) flanked by medallions of Archduke Maximilian III of Austria (1558-1618, to the left) and Margaret of York, duchess of Burgundy (1446-1503), third wife of Charles the Bold; Thierry of Alsace, (1099-1168, holding a sword and a round shield), his wife, Sibylla of Anjou (1112–1165) is seen in the medallion to the left. Not seen in the photo, on the façade’s far right, is Philip, Count of Alsace (1143-1191), also with a sword and a shield, son of Thierry of Alsace.
The Flanders lion, holding coats-of-arms, are positioned outside the Basilica of the Holy Blood. One of these coats-of-arms is that of Brugge itself (see photo #4).
The Basilica is located just off of the Main Square in town and is not readily easy to find. However once you bump into it is a unique structure indeed.
There are actually two chapels. The chapels are connected by a huge brick staircase. The lower level chapel is called the Chapel of Saint Basil. It is a Romanesque style chapel, with tiny seating rows and very little adoration inside. The upper level chapel is much more ornate and consists of a vividly colored altar, great stain glass windows and many murals. Here is where the holy relic can be found and the relic itself is contained in a rock crystal vial and located within a spectacular silver tabernacle.
The Basilica is definitely worth seeing and the upper chapel in particular is worthy of a look. Unfortunately the lighting in the chapels is not good and pictures are a little difficult.
that after the Cruxifiction, Joseph of Arimathea wiped the blood from the body of Christ and preserved the cloth. The cloth was kept in the Holy Land until the King of Jeruslum gave it to his Brother-inlaw, the Count of Flanders who arrived with it in Flanders, 7/4/1150.
This Chapel was first built in the 12th Century. becoming a Basilica in 1923. It has a Romanesque lower Chapel, and Gothic upper chapel. The upper Chapel is beautiful.
It has lovely stained glass windows and murals. The Holy Blood (believed to be from Jesus) is imbedded in a rock crystal vial, which is placed inside a small glass cylinder capped with a golden crown each end. It is kept in a silver tabernacle with a sculpture of the "Lamb of God" in the large side Chapel of the Upper Church.
In Spring each year, there is a "Procession of the Holy Blood" on Ascension Day. The Bishop of Brugges carries the relic through the streets accompanied with costumed residents acting out biblical scenes. This procession began in 1291 and has been held ever since.
You can visit the Basilica for FREE and the Museum is 1 euro admission.
Open April to Sept. daily from 9.30 - noon & 2 - 6pm, Oct - March 10 -12 & 2 -4pm. (closed Wed. afternoon)
This Basilica was built in the late 12th century. It houses a cloth that according to tradition and faith Joseph of Arimathea used to clean the body of Christ after the Crucifixion. The holy relic has been here since the 2nd Crusade when Diederik van de Elzas, count of Flanders brought it back from Constantinople who recieved it from the Patriach of Jerusalem in 1204. One can see and touch the holy relic... of course the relic is protected by glass but you can see it clearly. No admission price is charged to the Basilica but a 2 Euro fee is charged to see the treasury.
"Legend has it that after the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood from the body of Christ and preserved the cloth. The relic remained in the Holy Land until the Second Crusade, when the King of Jerusalem Baldwin III gave it to his brother-in-law, Count of Flanders Diederik van de Elzas.
The count arrived with it in Brugge on April 7, 1150 and placed it in a chapel he had built on Burg Square."
The first historical record to mention the Holy Blood in Brugge dates from 1256. The real story MIGHT be that it came from Constantinople, which had an extensive collection of relics including the Holy Blood.
Constantinople was sacked by the Crusader army of Count of Flanders Baldwin IX in 1204, during the Fourth Crusade. Baldwin IX probably sent the Holy Blood, looted from the Byzantines, to Brugge shortly thereafter..What the TRUTH is will likely never be known but nevertheless its here and it certainly is a centerpiece of the curiosities of Brugge....
The Basilica has a lower section referred to as the Chapel of St Basil.. the only Romanesque church in West Flanders, dating from the first half of the 12th century. It was built by Derrick, Count of Alsace (1128-1168) and dedicated to St Basil the Great.This was the most interesting part of the Basilica for me...the stonework is amazing and you really need to see it...and feel it....being in this Chapel I could almost feel the middle ages,lucky for me that while I was visiting there music could be heard coming from the Upper Chapel...music that was almost Baroque like....I cant really describe it but it almost gave me chills....
The Upper Chapel or The Chapel of the Holly Blood is lit by stained glass windows and covered with murals, including a brightly painted altar backdrop depicting the Trinity and scenes relating to the Holy Blood relic.
While I was visiting the Upper Chapel...as on every Friday..The Veneration of the Holly Blood was taking place.....and I watched for a little while while people lined up and filed past the Priest and Holly Blood relic....it was quite something to see....I did not participate though...
Veneration of the Holly Blood happens every Monday ,Tuesday,and Thursday from 1400 - 1500 and Friday,Saturday,and Sunday from 1400 - 1600.Fridays and Sundays the Veneration service occurs after the 1100 am Mass.
Masses in the Upper Chapel are held every Friday and Sunday at 1100 am.....Masses in the Lower Chapel are held every Monday Tuesday Wednesday and Saturday at 1100 am.....
Access to the Basilica of the Holly Blood is free of charge however there is a 1.5 Euro charge to access the museum adjoining the Basilica in the Upper Chapel...In the museum are paintings and other items significant to the Basilica.
The Holy Blood Basilica is a beautiful 12th-century Romanesque basilica which has a Gothic upper floor. The basilica houses what is said to be a relic of Christ, a cloth stained with the coagulated blood of Christ which was wiped from his body after the crucifixion.
On Ascension Day every year, there is a colorful procession of the Holy Blood relic where it carried through the streets with individuals dressed in costume and acting out biblical scenes. The relic itself is embedded in a rock-crystal vial inside a small glass cylinder adorned with a golden crown at each end. The Basilica Museum is worth a visit for its other treasures and to view the reliquary with a gem encrusted hexagonal case to the hold the relic. At the top of the reliquary is a beautiful golden statue of the Virgin. The reliquary was created by a Bruges goldsmith named Jan Crabbe in 1617.
The Burg place is another place not to be missed. It was more quite there and again you can see many old houses, for example the City Hall.
Next to it, in the corner, there is the Holy Blood Chapel. Actually this is a double chapel, with St Basil's Chapel (12th century) as the lower chapel and the Basilica of the Holy Blood (15th century) on the first floor. A lovely little church! There's also a museum (1,50 Euro) with the famous Relic of the Holy Blood.
It's opened just a few hours a day, but if you get the chance, really go and have a look.
You can even see Jesus Holy Blood, touch the reliquia where is kept and have a few minutes for a prayer while you hold your hands on it, really and i mean really a fantastic experience.
It was first constructed in the 12th century and promoted to the rank of Basilica in 1923. One can enter the church on the first floor where the Holy Blood is kept via the 'Steeghere' which is a beautifully decorated façade behind which a staircase leads to the first floor.
The original façade was constructed in late-gothic and renaissance style in the 16th century.
The guild statues represent Flemish counts. The lower part is called the Basilius chapel. It has preserved its original Romanesque style from the 12th-13th century.
According to recent investigations, the bottle of rock cristal, containing the blood, dates back to the 11th or 12th century. Since its arrival in Bruges it has never been opened.
It is almost certain that the bottle was made in the area of Constantinopel and that it was meant to contain perfume. The Bible never mentioned the fact that Christ's blood was preserved. One of the apocryphal gospels mentions that Joseph of Arimathea preserved the blood after he had washed the dead body of Jesus)Tradition has it that count 'Diederik van den Elzas' brought the relic containing the blood of Christ from Jerusalem to Bruges after the second crusade. Recent investigations, however, prove that the relic arrived later in Bruges, probably around 1250 and that it came from Constantinopel.
The adoration of the relic is at the origin of the internationally famous 'Procession of the Holy Blood' which passes every year on Asuncion day during the month of May through the streets of Bruges. Citizens of Bruges dressed in historical costumes enact during this procession biblical scenes and re-enact the arrival of the Count of Flanders who brings the Holy relic to Bruges.
The Holy Blood basilica was built in the XII century (although renovated several times since) to house the relic of Christ's blood that was brought to Brugge by the crusaders. The procession to celebrate it on the Ascension day is the main city holiday.
It is the richly decorated two-story building on the left side of my photo.
This small church houses a fragment of cloth which is claimed to be stained with the coagulated blood of Christ, which was wiped from his body after the crucifixion by Joseph of Arimathea.
The relic is embedded in a rock-crystal vial inside a small glass cylinder adorned with a golden crown at each end. Normally the relic is kept behind an image of the "lamb of Christ," on a side altar in the upstairs chapel. Each year, the rock-crystal vial is carried by the Bishop through the streets of Brugge.