Superstition, often unnoticed, plays an important role in our daily setting: ‘don’t put your shoes on the table, that brings bad luck’, ‘touch wood’, ‘avoid black cats’, ‘don’t walk under a ladder’ are just some of the many references to ways of warding off fate, the unknown, the uncertain. Even if we don’t believe in it, we see clues about our fate in all kinds of omens. With small actions, we attempt to evoke luck and force a favourable outcome. For example when we go on a trip, accept a new assignment or take part in a competition. Superstition starts from a (collective) belief and a tradition handed down, supplemented by our own beliefs.
In Europe and beyond, knocking on wood is an established ritual with the aim of influencing fate in a positive way. Celtic and Germanic cultures knew the Kotouka ritual, in which druids performed incantations on sacred trees, believing them to be the dwelling places of many gods. Wood was divine and sent away evil spirits.
Objects given to saints as gifts – and placed or hung in the vicinity of a statue of a saint – serve to obtain intercession, beg favours or express gratitude for interventions obtained. They could be everyday utensils, such as the crutch of a cripple who can walk again without aid.
Supplied by Erfgoedcel Brugge.
Saint Walburga played an important role in the conversion of Germany to Christianity. On her way from England to Germany, she is said to have founded a chapel at Saint Walburga in Bruges. A sacred, healing oil dripped from her bones. When that oil dried up in the nineteenth century, Guido Gezelle, as curate, had a bottle of holy oil brought over from Germany. He did so again in 1870, when he was involved in a large Walburga celebration in Veurne. Even now, a bottle of holy oil stands at the back of the church. The church itself is a very beautiful location.
Supplied by Bibliotheek Brugge.
These three tapestries were probably made by the Augustinian nuns who worked at this hospice. In eighteen scenes, they depict the miracles that took place there thanks to Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie (Our Lady of the Pottery). Texts clarify the events depicted. The three tapestries hold particular value for the collective memory. The old devotion to Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Potterie thus remains alive and well. The imagery is based on a typologically exceptional and richly illustrated book of miracles from the sixteenth century.
Supplied by Musea Brugge.
Fantastic story of a priest from Bruges who is presented as a Satanist priest in a novel by writer Joris-Karl Huysmans. In ‘Là-bas’, the writer Durtal is disgusted by the emptiness and vulgarity of the modern world. He seeks relief by turning to the study of the medieval Satanist Gilles de Rais, but then Durtal finds out that Satanism is not simply a thing of the past but has many followers in this day and age as well…
Supplied by Musea Brugge.