Saturday, April 21, 2007

Holy Blood of Jesus (Brugges, Belgium)

When I was doing my european travel itinerary last year, I made sure Brugge (Belgium) will be part of it as I had heard that its a very pretty medieval place. While searching the internet, I suddenly chanced upon the Holy Blood of Jesus Relic said to be found in the city of Brugges.

I then vowed I must see this holy relic. I went on researching till I found out that the feast and the great procession will be held on Ascension day (May 25) which is the day I was arriving in Paris. I even sent an email to the parish priest, who never replied.

When I arrived in Paris, I was contemplating on taking a risk and ride a train to Brugges to make sure I will see the relic because I read that it is not always exposed to the public, only on certain days, except during the feast. I asked a friend in Nantes to go with me to Brugges but she couldnt that day. I was kinda worried because being a big feast I might not be able to get back to Paris at once with the crowd and the train schedule might be difficult. I prayed for enlightenment then decided I better wait for my friend Bebeth who was arriving the following day and just go on with our original schedule of going to Brugges the following week.

We reached Brugge train station very late almost midnight as we had to change trains in Paris and Brussels. We couldnt even find a cab to bring us to the hotel immediately so we reached the center past 1am (after travelling for almost a day coming from Lourdes).

The following day friday, we woke up still very tired but hurried fast to hear the only mass and hoping to catch a glimpse of the Relic. From my readings it is exposed only on fridays at a certain time.

When we reached the Upper chapel, the line going inside was long and I had to force my way through to be able to catch the start of the mass. When I luckily got in little did I know they shut the door and bebeth was left outside. Fortunately they opened again and she was able to catch the homily.

Since the chapel was so full, I went to the other end of the place just in front of the right altar pictured here.

I noticed later that there was a sign saying the Holy Relic is kept in this reliquary! I thanked the Lord for this grace. Although I then thought we wouldnt have the chance to see it anylonger at least I came so close to Him.

Right after the mass, I stayed on to pray. It was mighty hard and expensive to get here so I wanted some time to meditate.

It was the best decision I made for after a few minutes, when most of the people have gone, specially the tourists, a priest came out holding the relic of the Holy Blood!

I shed a tear and joined the line to kiss the holy receptacle.

I was bold enough to use my camera as I know I may never have this chance again. Some photos are hazy since I put the camera on manual and didnt want to use the flash.

Bebeth was able to take my photo kissing the relic. I really wanted to take a photo of the relic itself but I was to embarrassed. We were just a few left and all was quiet in the chapel.

Nevertheless I thought to myself, I must not feel shame or I might regret it. I went back to line up again and kiss but this time I asked the priest if I can take a photo. He nodded a bit and so......

voila! here is my one and only clear photo of the Relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus.

According to tradition, the Count of Flanders brought the relic from Jerusalem. He then built a chapel at the Brug square where the relic is now housed.

It is believed that this blood came from that which gushed when Longinus pierced the side of Jesus with a spear. By the way, in my previous visit to Vienna, I was able to see what was believed to be the spear of Longinus now kept in a Hapsburg museum.

The great procession of the Holy Blood held each feast of Ascencion starts at 3pm. This includes an unfolding drama of the Old Testament and New Testament with colorfully costumed actors. It culminates with the Veneration of the Relic. This year, 2007, the feast will be held on May 17.