On the track of the Knights Templar – part 1
I want to show you one simple place, yet at the same time, a place of great sacral importance. Because just as the Grail of Indiana Jones wasn’t gold and jeweled, but was just a simple clay cup, the most valuable things aren’t shiny and do not catch the eye.
In the guide-book of the East Cantons in Belgium, by Jean-Marc Gay and Jean-Marc Huygen, the Chapel of St. Bartholomew in Wiesenbach is defined as one of the most significant treasures of East Belgium, and even in Europe in general.
According to an article in the historical magazine „Zwischen Venn und Schneifel“, issue from February 2011, by Franz Kelkel, Wiesenbach had initially carried the Old High German name Wisonbronna, or „The Spring of (the Pre-Christian spring goddess) Wisona“, who was in Christian times replaced by Saint Lucy. Later, the name became Wisibronna, which means „a good spring“, and in the end, it was modernized to the neutral name Wiesenbach that has yet lost all of its initial meaning. Apostle Bartholomew became a patron saint of the ancient chapel. That is how Christianity acts.
I’ve read a very interesting story in another issue of the same magazine (October and November, 1994) about how the people were converted to Christianity, and how easy it was in the past – the whole process was based only on fear, faith, and force. And about how the pagan sanctuaries were demolished and in their places were raised Christian ones with an entirely new history, as if you can replace apples with pears, for instance.
But despite all disguises, the Chapel in Wiesenbach has become a subject of a number of archaeological researches that had revealed many layers of a hidden history.
It was mentioned for the first time in AD 876. Therefore, it is officially more than 1140 years old.
A small part of the old tombstones in the chapel’s graveyard. These are from the 19th century.
It is assumed that the place was initially a sacred grove as it was placed between lime-trees. Some of the present ones are more than 200 years old. (I mention expressly the type of the trees as we will meet them again a bit later.) The oldest places of cult had been exactly trees, springs, hills, rocks, caves, and lakes.
In 1982, under many paint layers were the frescoes exposed, dating from 1475.
This photograph shows mainly the symbols of the Four Evangelists, but in the whole Gothic choir are depicted scenes from the Passion of Jesus, angels, and a number of saints.
The Baroque high altar from 1688 is a bit strange in itself with its unusual characters surrounding the crucified Jesus – Bartholomew, Lucy, and Hubertus – free interpretations of the artist.
To the left of the altar is the statue of Saint Bartholomew.
To the right is the already known Saint Hubert, and the hart with the crucifix.
On account of the fresco in the middle, depicting the Holy Grail placed on the Mount of Olives, the chapel has entered the lists of the Holy Grail seekers.
A big reproduction of the fresco stands to the left of the chapel entrance. Why a reproduction exactly of that fresco? Maybe because it is a very important one. But the saints in the depiction are silent and continue to keep the secret.
Another mystery in Wiesenbach – the Stations of the Cross, the 14 images or monuments (here they are images) from the Passion of Christ. Even though they are from the second half of the 19th century, their origin isn’t established. Besides, they carry inscriptions in Arabic language.
The medieval stoup is also considered to be more than 1000 years old.
Tombstone of a Spanish major, deceased and buried here in 1649, during the Thirty Years’ War.
On the left side of the chapel or if you stand facing it – on its right side, there is a hermitage that was built in 1840 by a certain hermit Joseph Könen.
In 2003, the building was renovated, and today it serves as an artistic studio.
That’s why it welcomes like this….
…and in its yard, there are so many bizarre objects, typical of an artistic studio. Yet they don’t minimize the significance of that ancient sacral place. On the contrary – in some strange way, they exalt it and make the site more mystical.
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