The Basilica of Scherpenheuvel

The town of Scherpenheuvel has been an important pilgrimage site for Catholic believers since the 16th century and is still the most visited pilgrimage site in Belgium. The small Basilica of the town is called 'The basilica Our Lady' and is implanted in the middle of the town on a hill. The church is visible on a hilltop far into the perimeter.

Picture by Harry Fabel

A legend of a miraculous old wooden Our Lady's statue, dating back to the 14th century, is at the origin of this pilgrimage church. On the hilltop, there was an oak tree that had the shape of a cross. A pious man then hung a statue of Mary on the oak and from then on many people came to pray. When a servant of a shepherd wanted to take the figurine with him, he was, according to the legend, nailed to the ground until a visitor placed the figurine back on the tree. After some wooden churches, the building of the current basilica was commissioned by the archdukes Albrecht en Isabella in 1609, it was designed by architect Wenceslas Cobergher.

Picture by Pixabay

The basilica is surrounded by a beautiful and special seven-sided square. Behind the Basilica there is a park. There is also a remarkable water source. On the square, you can find a candle chapel and many stalls with souvenirs, locally produced foods, and beverages.