July 7: Our Lady of Arras, Netherlands 1380
Our Lady of Arras or Hertogenbosch
The image known as the “Kind Mother” at Hertogenbosch, or “Our Sweet Lady” of Den Bosch, as she is also known in the north Brabant province of the Netherlands, was an object of derision when it was first heard of in 1380. It had been found dirty and damaged in a builder’s junk-yard, but it soon became celebrated for the wonders connected with it.
The statue of Our Sweet Lady is of oak is nearly four feet tall and is of an unusual pattern: Our Lady stands upright, while her forearms are extended at right angles to her body. The Child is balanced on her left hand and in her right she holds an apple.
The dedication of the new church of Our Lady of Arras occurred in the year 1484 by Bishop Peter de Ranchicourt, who was bishop of that city. The first church which had been built at the site had been constructed by Saint Vaast, who had been the Bishop of Arras, in the year 542, using the liberal donations of the first kings of France.
The desolation caused by the Calvinists began in 1566, and many churches were plundered. The Kind Mother was hidden and saved from the destruction. Years later, when the city was seized by the Spanish, two Carmelites took the statue to Bishop Ophovius, who gave it to one of the women of the parish to safeguard.
Eventually it was feared that the statue of the Kind Lady would not be safe if it stayed were it was, and so it was decided to take the statue to Brussels for safety. The statue had to be hidden to keep it safe, and so was placed in a chest and snuck out through the town gates. It was then taken to St Geradus’s church in Belgium before being taken to Koudenberg church in Brussels.
It wasn’t until the year 1810 when the cathedral at Den Bosch was returned to the Catholics by Napoleon. Then, it took the prolonged efforts of Bishop J. Zwijsen, the bishop of Hertogenbosh, to have the beloved statue of Our Sweet Lady returned to his cathedral in 1878. It was crowned by the grateful bishop in the name of Pope Leo XIII that same year, and the feast is July 7th with proper Mass and Office in certain places.
*from The Woman in Orbit
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