Saturday after the Ascension
Onze Lieve Vrouw van Amersfoort, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Netherlands
On this day, eight days before the feast of Pentecost, a silent procession
begins at 7:30 a.m. in the central Dutch city of Amersfoort. The Lady Walk visits the place where in 1444 a housekeeper
named Margriete Gysen found a clay statue of the Virgin and Child in the city
moat. It stops at the Old Catholic Church of St. George to venerate the dust of
that statue, and at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier, where the
replacement statue resides (right). Of oak, stripped of its Gothic polychrome in
1938, the 17" Lady of Amersfoort is nearly as old as the original.
The story goes that Margriete Gysen had a vision of Our Lady, who told her to look for a
statue of herself under the ice by the water gate. The seer told her boss, a
dyer named Jan Huberts, who laughed at her story, saying it was just a dream.
But after the vision repeated twice more, Margriete Gysen broke the ice at the
indicated spot and found the statue, still and upright in the flowing water. She
retrieved the image, set it up in her home, and lit a candle, which burned three
times longer than expected. On the day after Christmas, she brought the statue to her
confessor, Jan Schoonhoven, a Carmelite friar. By January, he had decided the
image was miraculous and moved it to a chapel, where it began attracting
pilgrims. When news reached St. Agnes' Convent, a young sister named Geertje
Arends made a confession: on her way into Amersfoort to enter the convent,
impressed with the city's magnificence, she had felt ashamed of the humble
figurine her parents had given her, and thrown it into the canal. With the
donatioms of grateful pilgrims, a tower was added to the chapel.
In 1579, when Protestants took over the chapel, Catholics took the statue to
safety. Used as an ammunition depot, the chapel was destroyed by an explosion in
1789. The tower remains as a city landmark.
|"Collectie: Amersfoorts pelgrimsteken," Collectie
|Databank bedevaart en bedevaartplaatsen in Nederland,
|Jeanette van der Meij, "WebTV: De Amersfoortse
Vrouwevaert," RKK, www.rkk.nl/actualiteit/2006/detail_objectID581264_FJaar2006.html
|Michiel Van Leeuwen, "Our Lady of Amersfoort," Pilgrim's
Page - Order of Maria Rosa Mystica, ordermariarosamystica.weebly.com/pilgrims-page.html|
|Parish website, www.katholiekamersfoort.nl/?b=1857|