Sunday after November 2

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Scherpenheuvel, Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, Flemish Brabant, Belgium

In the 1200s, a cross-shaped oak tree became a site of Christian devotion in Scherpenheuvel (known as Montaigu in French), some 30 miles east of Brussels. A statue of the Virgin placed in the tree gained fame in the early 1400s, when, the story goes, it fell to the ground, and a shepherd boy who tried to carry it away became immobilized until his boss returned the image to the tree. For some 150 years, pilgrims flocked to the site, praying to Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel for relief from troubles, particularly fevers. In the 1580s, Protestant marauders destroyed the statue. Believers continued to frequent the oak, where a new statue was installed in 1587. The Catholic pastor built a small chapel and began conducting processions there in 1602. In 1604, a stone chapel replaced the wooden one, and the ancient tree, long the subject of pious pruning and now dead, was cut down. Replicas of the statue, made from the wood, engendered daughter shrines in Europe and Canada. In 1609 Albrecht and Isabella, Sovereigns of the Habsburg Netherlands, began construction of a domed church in Scherpenheuvel, completed in 1627. In 1629, Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel was credited with stopping an epidemic of plague, and in 1734, an onslaught of dysentery. After one of these miracles, the grateful survivors pledged to reenact their candlelight procession annually on the Feast of All Saints, November 2. The Keerskensprocessie still takes place on the Sunday after that date, closing the pilgrimage season begun May 1 with a Great Trek from Antwerp. Another celebration is held every 25 years to commemorate the canonical crowning of the statue on August 25, 1872 (1997, 2022, 2047). In 1922, Pope Pius XI designated the shrine a Basilica Minor.   

Sources include:

bullet"Op zaterdag 28 April was het wee," Vlaamse Vereniging Cardiale Revalidatie en Preventie, www.carep.be/scherpenheuvel.htm (photo)
bulletRobert Derome, "La médaille du baron du Fouencamps et l'iconographie de la Vierge," www.er.uqam.ca/nobel/r14310/NDdBS
bulletOtto Von Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Traditions et Legends de la Belgique, v. 2, Ferdinand Claassen, Brussels, 1870,  classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/reinsberg_duringsfeld_baron/traditions_belgique_t2/Traditions_belgique_t2.doc
bulletShrine's site, Scherpenheuvel, www.scherpenheuvel.be

Also commemorated this date:

bulletOnze-Lieve-Vrouw van de Ossenweg, Zoutleeuw, Flemish Brabant, Belgium
 

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly