Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed

It may look like another mouthful, but I think you can see the title actually says Basilica of the Holy Blood - it's quite obvious when you look at it!

This is another church built to house something - this time it is actually the blood of Christ!  The story says that back in 1150 the Count of Flanders (either Thierry of Alsace or Dietrich of Alsace - maybe they are the same person for all I know!) had earned recognition for his bravery in the Second Crusade and his reward was a small phial containing blood that is said to have been washed from the body of Christ by Joseph of Arimathea.  So the Count brought his phial back home to Brugge with him and this church was built to hold this treasure of the town.

Each year on Ascension Day, a large procession is held to commemorate the return of the Count and his victorious army, along with their special relic.  The phial is kept all year in a special silver reliquary and is venerated every Friday, once in the morning and once in the evening.  But on this one day each year, they bring the relic out of the church and parade it around the town in a day long ceremony.  The first part of the day has re-enactments of the biblical stories associated with the relic and the second is dedicated to retelling the return of the Count and his armies with the relic.  This all started way back in the Middle Ages as a way to tell the story to the peasants and others who could not read.

The church sits right on the Burg, just to the right of the City Hall (in Around the Town - the first 3 are the City Hall - the third one has the Basilica in it).  There is a beautiful 16th century spiral staircase with amazing stained glass windows leading up to the church.  Murals were added to the church in the 19th century - we did notice that we have not seen another church over here with so much paint on it's walls!

These two pictures are of the stairway and stained glass there.

And here is the main altar and some stained glass inside the church.

These final two pictures show the altar and silver reliquary where the Blood of Christ is kept.