Pope Benedict XVI

"Beauty... is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God Himself and His revelation."
(Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 35)

06 February 2010

Two Weeks Absence

I must apologise to anyone looking for weekly information about Masses in Kilkenny. The administrator of the web log has been away for two weeks and was unable to post to the internet during this time.

Prayers were said for all the readers and the intentions of the Society of St. Oliver Punkett during a visit to Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek) in Brugge, Belgium.

The Basilica consists of two churches, a lower and upper chapel. The churches were originally built in the 12th century by Thierry of Alsace, who decided to build a private double chapel next to the Oud Steen, the first residence of the Counts of Flanders, which is now the town hall of Brugge. The town hall is seen below, on the right (with the turrets) and the Basilica extending to the west side.

The lower church is dedicated to St. Basil, whose relic was brought back after the First Crusade by Robert II, Duke of Flanders (also known as Robertus Hierosolimitanus) in c.1100.  The lower church, as shown above, is the best surviving example of the Romanesque style in West Flanders, built between 1134 -1139AD.

The upper church (the high altar shown above) houses a relic of the Holy Blood, which according to tradition, was collected by Joseph of Arimathea at the time of Crucifixion, and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.

Thierry went on crusade a second time in 1147 (Second Crusade). According to tradition, Thierry of Alsace returned to his capital Brugge on April 7, 1150 with the relic of the Precious Blood. More recent research would seem to suggest that the relic originates from 1207 when Constantinople was sacked by the army of Baldwin IV during the Fourth Crusade. There is a papal bull of Clement V (1310), grating indulgences to the faithful who venerate the relic.

During the first half of the 13th century, the name of the upper chapel was changed to the Chapel of the Holy Blood.  Originally it was built in Romanesque style, like the lower chapel. It was rebuilt in Gothic Style at the end of the 15th century and again in 1823, having been extensively damaged following the French Revolution.

The picture below, showing the silver tabernacle where the vial holding the Precious Blood is kept.
Only the curved arches giving access to the side chapel of the Holy Cross remain from the original Romanesque chapel. It was promoted to minor basilica in 1923.

The church also houses the relics of Blessed Charles the Good, Count of Flanders (son of Canute IV of Denmark and Adela of Flanders).

Mass according to the 1962 Missal is said there every month.

Staircase entrance to the Basilica

Detail of entrance.

 The Relic of the Holy Blood is exposed for veneration on Fridays.

Sanguis Christi, inebria me!

Recent investigations have showed that the phial (shown above) is made of rock crystal and  probably dates to the 11th or 12th century. It may have been a Byzantine perfume bottle made in the area of Constantinople. It has never been opened since its arrival in Brugge. Its neck is wound with gold thread and its stopper is sealed with red wax. The phial is encased in a glass-fronted gold cylinder closed at each end by coronets decorated with angels. The date "MCCCLXXXVIII die III maii" (May 3, 1388) is engraved on the frame. (Nickell, Joe. 2007. "Blood of Jesus". Relics of the Christ. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 169–170.)

Some more pictures off-site here.

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