Procession of the Holy Blood


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Holy Blood, Procession of the

Between April 30 and June 3; Ascension Day
This procession is a major religious event in Bruges, Belgium, to venerate the Holy Blood of Christ that was brought back from the Second Crusade by Thierry d'Alsace, count of Flanders.
Thierry's bravery in Jerusalem in the battles against the Saracens was legendary. As a reward for his courage, King Baudouin entrusted the count with a vial of a few drops of blood supposed to have come from Christ's wounds and collected from under the cross by Joseph of Arimathea. When Thierry returned to Bruges on April 7, 1150, there was a great celebration: flowers were strewn in the streets, people waved the banners of the city trades, city dignitaries welcomed the heroic count, and the Holy Reliquary was taken in solemn procession to the Chapel of St. Basile.
The present procession commemorates that original one, although it was not a regular celebration until 1820. Today, the activities begin at 11 a.m. with a pontifical mass in the cathedral. The procession gets under way at 3 p.m., lasts about an hour and a half, and closes with a blessing by the bishop.
As the celebration gets under way, every church bell peals in this usually quiet city. Through living tableaux, the procession tells the story of the Bible from the fall of Adam and Eve, on through Abraham and Moses and to the New Testament stories of St. John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus, the Last Supper, and the Crucifixion on Calvary. Some dozen groups also depict the triumphant return of Thierry d'Alsace to Bruges. When the procession has returned to Burg Square, where it began, the bishop of Bruges lifts the relic of the Holy Blood and blesses the crowd. Visitors come to Bruges from all over the world for the procession.
See also San Gennaro, Feast of
CONTACTS:
Belgian Tourist Office
220 E. 42nd St., Ste. 3402
New York, NY 10017
212-758-8130; fax: 212-355-7675
www.visitbelgium.com
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 42
BkHolWrld-1986, May 21
FestWestEur-1958, p. 11
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 19
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References in periodicals archive ?
Known as the Procession of the Holy Blood, the pageant dates back to the 12th century, when a citizen of Bruges is said to have brought back a stained cloth from the Second Crusade, allegedly used to wipe Christ's wounds.
Each spring, some 30,000 to 45,000 spectators gather in the city of Bruges in Belgium, to witness the Procession of the Holy Blood on Ascension Day; forty days after Easter.