Monday, February 22, 2010

Visit the Beguine Complex in Leuven, Belgium

A Building from around the year 1200 in the Beguinage in Leuven (Louvain)

Walk the narrow cobblestone streets that wind through what was for centuries the Beguine complex in Leuven, and you will gain a glimpse from the past. Once home to three hundred women, this beguinage began as a small group of women devoted to serving the Lord by tending the sick and dying. Because hospitals were virtually nonexistent, these women established an infirmary around the year 1200. It likely functioned as a clinic and somewhat as a hospice for the dying. See photo on the blog of Feb 1, 2010, for a picture of that building that still stands today and functions as the faculty dining room for the University.

While most of the existing buildings standing today were built at a later time, three buildings date back to around 1200: the infirmary, the church and the building in the above photo.

Today the townhomes that made up the beguinage are part of the University of Leuven and serve as housing for students and faculty. However, all are requested to remain quite along these corridors—there is still something special about this space that was dedicated to seeking God!

Tourists and pilgrims are welcome to wander the streets and alleys. Walking here one wonders what life would have been like over the hundreds of years that Beguine women lived, worked and prayed within these walls!

2010 © Glenn E. Myers

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