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I. Belgian beguinages

II. History, life, spirituality

III. Beatrice of Nazareth

life and context

7 Manners


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Great Beguinage of St. Amandsberg




Groot Begijnhof St. Amandsberg

Klein Begijnhof



Sources. A great many thanks against to my grandfather for supplying these beautiful postcards. When the picture is not of such a postcard the source is mentioned (e.g., above: virgin and child in a door at St. Amandsberg; photograph by Michel Fischer, in: Weyuergans and Zenoni, p.51)

The Old Great Beguinage of St. Elisabeth in Ghent. The Great Beguinage of Ghent was founded in 1234, thanks to a yearly interest donated by Countess Johanna of Constantinople. It grew into a "beguine city" with a church, a chapel, a communal house, an infirmary, eighteen "convents" or houses, and 103 houses. In the 19th century (1874) though the "bleekhof", i.e.,  the lawn where the laundry was dried, was parceled out, the mote around the beguinage was filled in, and an entire street was taken away. The last 300 beguines who still lived there were moved to what now became the Great Beguinage of St.Amandsberg - the Mount of the Holy Lover. There is still  one street left along with a couple of buildings, and the Church, dedicated to St. Elisabeth of Hungary (the oldest part of this church is from the 13th century). 

stamands3.jpg (101908 bytes)stamands4.jpg (60874 bytes)The Small Beguinage in Ghent (*) was founded a year after the Great one, in 1235, and it is situated in the "Lange Violettenstraat", the long street with the violets. Because it was built next to the hayfields of the abbey "Nonnenbos" (forest of the nuns), it was called Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Hooie. Most of the buildings still standing were built between 1600 and 1700. 

stamands6.jpg (65412 bytes)stamands5.jpg (60815 bytes)The Great Beguinage at St. Amandsberg (#), situated on a domain of 8 hectares, was built between 1872 and 1874 to accommodate the beguines who were driven from the beguinage in Ghent. When it was officially opened in 1874, no less than 700 beguines took their home here! It features a high wall around it, a church, chapel, communal house, 14 convents, and 80 houses, 2 gate buildings.stamands7.jpg (66535 bytes)



life at the beguinage


stamands8.jpg (63857 bytes)stamands9.jpg (55418 bytes)Beguines at their "schapraaien" or "gardes-manger", their private cabinets with their dishes and food (#). 




stamands10.jpg (32183 bytes) And at the refectory at the Small Beguinage in Gent (*)


werken...   (to work...)


stamands12.jpg (71816 bytes) stamands13.jpg (73165 bytes) Place of St. Begga ("St. Begga's Plein"), beguines laying the wash to dry in the "bleekweide" or bleaching meadow (#)

stamands14.jpg (93809 bytes) stamands15.jpg (78474 bytes) Lace and needlework at (*)


  ... en kerken  (... and "to church")

Above: Going to evening mass at (#)

stamands17.jpg (31505 bytes)

Congregated in front of the Chapel of Seven Pains ("Kapel der Zeven Weeen") at (#)


stamands18.jpg (65505 bytes) Profession of a sister (*)

 stamands19.jpg (71803 bytes) Funeral procession of a deceased sister (#)


This is Hermina Hoogewijs (who iwas 87 in 2001). She is the last beguine in the Small Beguinage in Ghent. She was honored last year (picture of cover of Stadsmagazine Gent, vol.3, no.9)