Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges – Mass times, Hours

Basilica of the Holy Blood, Burg, Brugge, Belgija

Website of the Sanctuary

+32 (0)50 33 67 92

9h30-12h00 and 14h00-17h00

Basilica of the Holy Blood – History

The oldest document concerning the relic of the Holy Blood in Bruges dates back to 1256. Thus, between 1150 and 1256 there is a gap of a century! Could it be that the relic arrived in Bruges later than 1150? Probably, because at that time there was a relic of the Holy Blood in Constantinople, namely in the Maria Chapel of the imperial palace of Bucoleon. See more European catholic shrines and basilicas. 

This relic belonged to a whole series of relics connected with the suffering of Christ. In 1203 Constantinople fell into the hands of the crusaders. The imperial city was sacked during the 4th crusade (1204). Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders, was chosen as the new emperor.

Basilica of the Holy Blood - History

Basilica of the Holy Blood Mass times

Entrance Basilica: free of charge Treasury/Museum: Tickets: individual € 2,50 groups (min. 15 persons) € 2,00
Mass Every day, also on Sunday and Holydays, at 11h00 except Thursday.
Veneration Every day after mass, from 11h30 till 12h00 (also on Thursday) and in the afternoon from 14h00 till 16h00.
Adoration Every Wednesday from 10h00 till 11h00
Choirs wishing to sing during our celebrations are welcomed. Priests visiting Bruges are cordially invited to concelebrate. Groups are invited to join during services.

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The Holy Blood relic

According to the old tradition, Derrick of Alsace, Count of Flanders, brought the relic of the Holy Blood with him after the second crusade, having received it in the Holy Land (1150).

Because of his exceptional heroism during this crusade, Derrick received this relic, with the approval of the patriarch of Jerusalem, from the hands of his brother-in-law, Baldwin III of Anjou, King of Jerusalem. See more catholic shrines in Belgium.

See another relic of Jesus Christ in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 

Arriving in Bruges on april 7th 1150, Count Derrick, accompanied by his wife Sybilla of Anjou and Leonius, abbot of Saint Bertin’s abbey of Saint Omar, brought the relic to the Basilius chapel on the Burg, a chapel which he himself had built. Basilica of the Holy Blood.

Basilica of the Holy Blood – The Lower Chapel

The chapel of Saint Basil is the only church in Romanesque style of West-Flanders. Build in the first half of the 12th century by Derrick, Count of Alsace (1128-1168), the chapel is dedicated to Saint Basil the Great, a Greek doctor of the Church (+379) of whom a relic was brought back from Caesarea by Robert II of Jerusalem, Count of Flanders.

The chapel consists of two side naves and a central nave continued by the choir, which in turn is ended by a semi-circular apse.

The seated Madonna and Child or Sedes Sapientiae in the right nave is a wooden polychrome sculpture is dated back to early 14th century. The tympanum above the entrance linking the chapel and the annex is a 12th-century representation of the baptism of Saint Basil.

Two remarkable wooden statues represent Jesus on the Cold Stone and the Pieta. Both sculptures, made around 1900, are highly revered and carried each year in the procession of the Holy Blood.

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The Basilica – The Lower Chapel

The chapel of Saint Basil is the only church in Romanesque style of West-Flanders.
Build in the first half of the 12th century by Derrick, Count of Alsace (1128-1168), the chapel is dedicated to Saint Basil the Great, a Greek doctor of the Church (+379) of whom a relic was brought back from Caesarea by Robert II of Jerusalem, Count of Flanders. The chapel consists of two side naves and a central nave continued by the choir, which in turn is ended by a semi-circular apse.

The seated Madonna and Child or Sedes Sapientiae in the right nave is a wooden polychrome sculpture is dated back to early 14th century. The tympanum above the entrance linking the chapel and the annex is a 12th-century representation of the baptism of Saint Basil. Two remarkable wooden statues representJesus on the Cold Stone and the Pieta. Both sculptures, made around 1900, are highly revered and carried each year in the procession of the Holy Blood.

Basilica Holy Blood BrugesAt the left of the choir, the chapel of Saint Yves was added in 1504. The relics of Saint Basil and of Charles the Good, Count of Flanders and who has been assassinated, are kept here. The black marble retable is presumed to be executed from drafts of Lancelot Blondeel. The chapel of Saint Basil, the so-called chapel of the Precious Blood, was used by Count Derrick and his son Philip of Alsace while residing in the adjacent castle. The lower chapel supports the upper chapel, originally built in Romanesque style, underwent in the course of centuries many significant transformations. The title of basilica was bestowed to both chapels in 1923. The monumental staircase DE STEEGHERE that leads to the upper chapel was build in 1533 in Renaissance style ornamented on the outside with statues sculpted according to the drawings of Lancelot Blondeel.

The Basilica – The Upper Chapel

The Gothic upper chapel was build at the end of the 15th century. Only the curved arches giving access to the sidechapel of the Holy Cross are the remains of the original Romanesque chapel. The stained-glass windows in the choir are dated 1845 and represent the sovereigns who reigned over the County of Flanders from Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy (1342-1404), till Maria-Theresia, empress of Austria (1717-1780).

On both sides of the high altar one can see decorations typical to a basilica : thetintinnabulum, a small processional bell, and the conopeum, a sunscreen in the form of a parasol in yellow and red silk. The pulpit made by Henry Pulinckx in the form of a globe dates from 1728. The reason for this shape can be found in its evangelical purpose : ” Go into all the world and preach the gospel “.

The large wall-painting behind the altar was realized in 1905. The upper part depicts themystery of the Cross, where Christ shed his blood. In the background can be seen the towns of Bethlehem, where Christ was born, and Jerusalem where he died. The fresco underneath shows the transport of the relic to Bruges : on the left, Thierry of Alsace receives the relic from the Patriarch and King of Jerusalem; on the right, kneeling besides Countess Sybilla, he hands over the relic to the chaplain.

The altar used today for the Eucharist is decorated with a relief in alabaster dating back to the beginning of the 17th century and depicting the Last Supper. The oak communion rails (17th century) bear four carved medaillons of saints. The white marble altar in Baroque style in the chapel of the Holy Cross was completed in 1751 by Laurent Delvaux. The two adoring angels were made by Peter Pepers and the silver tabernacle by silversmith Ryelandt. To the right of the altar there is an impressive painting by Jacob van Oost, depicting the descent from the Cross.

The present building dates from the 19th century since the original was demolished during the French occupation. The gilded bronze statues represent Archduchess Isabelle, Mary of Burgundy, Derrick and Philip of Alsace and, in the medallions, the Archdukes Albert and Maximilian of Austria, Margaret of York and Sybil of Anjou, wife of Derrick and mother of Philip of Alsace.

By plane
A large number of carriers offer direct flights to Brussels. Belgium’s main airport has its own railway station. Bruges can easily be reached through the airports of Brussels, Charleroi (Brussels South) and Lille, so getting to Bruges by train is by far the easiest way. Only one change at one of the three main stations is needed.

By train
Traveling to Bruges on Belgium’s excellent rail system is a natural choice. Trains to and from Brussels leave every 30 minutes during the day.

Entrance Basilica: free of charge Treasury/Museum: Tickets: individual € 2,50 groups (min. 15 persons) € 2,00
Mass Every day, also on Sunday and Holydays, at 11h00 except Thursday.
Veneration Every day after mass, from 11h30 till 12h00 (also on Thursday) and in the afternoon from 14h00 till 16h00.
Adoration Every Wednesday from 10h00 till 11h00
  Choirs wishing to sing during our celebrations are welcomed. Priests visiting Bruges are cordially invited to concelebrate. Groups are invited to join during services.

The Procession – SIGNIFICANCE

The procession of the Holy Blood tries to answer the questions every man has on the meaning of his own life and on the existence of the world. Everyone whishes to be deeply happy. That happiness has different names, according to the cultural background, called by some ‘Nirvana’, by others ‘Heaven’, or, in the biblical tradition : ‘the Kingdom of God’, ‘Sion’ or ‘the new Jerusalem’.

Prayer
Lord,
Your Precious Blood reminds us of your suffering, your death and resurrection.
You relieved us of a nonsensical life and of an eternal death.
Give courage to those who bow down under oppression.
Give life to those who are living an empty life.
Give strength and resistance to those who work for peace and security.
Revive the fire of love among men and the flame of unity and tolerance among Christians.

Lord,
Your Precious Blood reminds us of the New alliance between God and men.
It is the sign of your liking for us.
May this alliance grow every day.
Open my heart and my mind for every man You put on my road.
That Your Precious Blood give me the courage to bear witness to God.

The Relic – HISTORY

The oldest document concerning the relic of the Holy Blood in Bruges dates back to 1256. Thus, between 1150 and 1256 there is a gap of a century! Could it be that the relic arrived in Bruges later than 1150? Probably, because at that time there was a relic of the Holy Blood in Constantinople, namely in the Maria Chapel of the imperial palace of Bucoleon. This relic belonged to a whole series of relics connected with the suffering of Christ. In 1203 Constantinople fell into the hands of the crusaders. The imperial city was sacked during the 4th crusade (1204). Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders, was chosen as the new emperor.

Presumably he sent looted relics to Flanders and particularly to Bruges. His daughters Johanna and Margaretha were in charge of the county. It is likely that this is the way Bruges came into possession of the relic of the Holy Blood. Also the manner in which the rock-crystal flask is cut indicates an origin in Constantinople.

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