Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)-Bruges (Brugge), Belgium: Part 2

The Chapel of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek) is where the small vial is kept which is believed to contain a piece of cloth stained with the blood of Christ said to have been wiped from his body by Jeseph of Arimathea, after the crucifixion. It was brought to Bruges in 1150 by theBasilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)-Bruges (Brugge) Count of Flanders, Diederik van de Elzas, after the second crusade. Paintings depicting the count handing over the relic to the bishop can be found in the town hall nearby. There is a silver tabernacle where the relic is kept. It is said to have been presented by Albert and Isabella of Spain in 1611. The public can see the relic every Friday (8 AM to 3 PM). While from the 3rd to 17th May it is shown everyday. On Ascension Day (in May), it is taken on a procession in the streets of Bruges (Helig-Bloed processie). It is a major event for the city when people dress up in medieval dresses and costumes and join the procession and enact scenes from the Bible. The relic is preserved inside a rock-crystal vial which in turn is inside a cylindrical glass container with ornate gold crown at both ends.

Beside the upper chapel there is a one room museum housing the chapel treasures, paintings and the reliquaries (containers or repositories to store sacred relics) for the relic. The prominent reliquary is the one created by a goldsmith, Jan Crabbe, in 1617. It is an exquisite piece made of gold and silver and embedded with precious stones. The second reliquary almost evolved over three centuries. It is originally from 1612 while its sliver lid is from 1716 and in 1890 a golden flower garland was added to the lid.

Recently historians have been interested in learning more details about the rock crystal container and the blood. It was found that the container dates back to the 11th or 12th century from the area of Constantinople (present Istanbul in Turkey). It is thus thought to have come from there and not from Jerusalem as is believed by believers. The container has never been opened after its arrival to Bruges.

The timings of the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges – 
April-Sept.: 9:30 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 6 PM
Oct- March: 10 AM – 12 PM and 2 PM – 4 PM
Closed on Wednesday afternoons, Nov. 1, Dec 25 and Jan 1.
The entry to the Basilica is free but there is a small entry fee for the museum. Free for children under 12.

Related Article:
Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – An Introduction
How to get to Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – Transportation
Traveling within Bruges (Brugge), Belgium – Transport Information
The Markt (Market) Square-Bruges
Belfry (Belfort) of Bruges
Church of Our Lady & Statue of Madonna and the Child – Part 1 ; Part 2
The Beguinage (Begijnhof) of Bruges