Brussels in March 2007

Just as my recent trip to Paris was possibly my last official-business visit to that city, this official-business vist to Brussels, with only a few hours to play tourist, may have been my last official visit here also since my assignment with the European Commission's Research Directorate is now finished.

I only had the afternoon of my arrival day to take some photos, and my choice was to go see the cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula, where the mystic Jan van Ruisbroec (don't get confused if it is spelled Joannes Rysbroeckyus or some other way, it is the same person) got his start in his working life as a parish priest.

Van Ruisbroec,'s teachings and life are discussed on several pages on this site.  His grove of inspiration, where he built his monastery, is also illustrated on several pages on this site.  I also compare his teaching with that of a heretic he attacked, Bleomardinne of Brussels, in case you are as interested in such arcane things as I am.

I had been here before, as you can see on my other pages, but always at night, never at a time that the chuch itself was open to visitors.  So, finally here was my chance to go inside that church in the daytime while staying awake that first day to conquer jetlag.  There was no other opportunity this trip because Tuesday was a full work day and mid-day Wednesday I was to fly to Vienna for more work.

Since I have shown the outside of the building before, these back and front shots were the only two I took of the building before going in.  Note the flying buttresses in the back to support the high vertical walls:

Inside, relatively little is dedicated to Jan.  He has a statue,

a portrait,

and a cartoon page (not shown) telling about his life for younger people. He was only here for a short time before starting his own monastery, and there is a museum dedicated to him near to where his monastery used to be, so one should not expect very much here.  

This is an important cathedral, it is a very popular visitor destination, and there was quite a crowd, including tour grous, coming through while I was there.  One draw is that here is where a royal marriage was performed, so it is a cultural icon as well as a religious one.

I was quite taken with some of the art work, and will share it with you here without much banter from me.



This depiction of Mary is quite stunning in its portrayal of a soft, loving yet wise face at the same time depicting her authority over the unseen world (crushing the serpent beneath her feet):

There is also more typical Madonna & Child type of art work in this cathedral, of course, but even it is very well done and attractive, especially  in its facial expressions:

This scene of the preparation of Jesus for burial is quite striking:

We all know who Saint Michael is, the serpent/satan killer/subduer:

But we may not know Saint Gudula, who is depicted in this painting:

OK, so just because I have now seen this picture I know who Saint Gudula is?  No I don't, but she served the ill and the poor all her life, I gather from the description posted by the painting.

What was the altar of this great cathedral like?

The windows were simply fantastic, but my camera did not do justice to them so I'll show only a glimpse with some surrounding artwork:

Other artwork was also impressive in this cathedral, but there just isn't time for it all so we need to move on to another page to see one more art item I saw in this wonderful icon of culture and religion, its pulpit/lectern carved of dark wood, plus what else I saw in my short walkabout.

 Go to Second Brussels page (same March of 2007 trip)

 Go to Vienna (same March of 2007 trip)

 Go back to 2007 Yearbook page

 Go back to Link-Outline page

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