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Blessed earth and stone powder against diseases and other discomforts (part 2)

Use in The Netherlands and Belgium

Except for the churches and chapels from part 1, there have been more places where people could get blessed earth and blessed stone powder. From literature review we learned the following. 

Places where in the past people could get blessed or sacred earth 

The Carmelitessenklooster - Vaals
Vaals lies in the extreme southeast of the Dutch province Limburg. In the past the monks from the Camelitessenklooster (Convent of the Carmelites) sold stone powder as a medicine. Unfortunately this convent doesn't exist anymore. 

In Heerle (municipality Roosendaal in the Dutch province North-Brabant) people could get blessed white sand until the end of the last century. They threw this so-called Gertrudissand on places where mice and rats caused them trouble. 

Prinsenbeek - The Onze Lieve Vrouw Tenhemelopnemingkerk
In Prinsenbeek (municipality Breda in the Dutch province North-Brabant) there is also a connection between the holy Gertrude of Nivelles and special sand. The people could get this mice-sand in the Onze Lieve Vrouw Tenhemelopnemingkerk (church). With this sand they protected the harvest against mice and rats. According to the legend the holy Gertrude lived in Prinsenbeek. Each time when mice and rats ate their harvest, Saint Gertrude helped them to get rid of these rodents. Saint Gertrude is worshipped as the patron saint against rats and mice. 

In Woensdrecht (in the Dutch province North-Brabant) the people worship the holy Gertrude of Nivelles. In the past you could take home some blessed sand on the anniversary of her death on the 17th of March. Just like in Heerle and Prinsenbeek this sand was used as a protection against rats and mice. The sand stood in a bin in the back of the church. 

Sint Gertrudiskerk - Vorst 
In Vorst (in the province Antwerp in Belgium) Gertrude of Nivelles was not only asked for help against rats and mice but also to cure wounds on the nose and the lips and to get rid of eczema. The people also thought Gertrude could help when somebody had a mental illness or as the devil tried to seduce them. One also believed Gertrude could help when the plague or other epidemic diseases ravaged the country. Pilgrims took some earth of the cemetery home to use it for all kinds of things. 

Saint Veronus of Lembeek or Saint Vroon is worshipped in Lembeek (municipality Halle in the province Flemish Brabant in Belgium). People asked his assistance for different diseases and also for headaches, meningitis and fever. In the past pilgrims took home some earth from a pit at the grave of the saint. They put this earth in a little bag. At night the bag was laid under the head. In this way they hoped to get cured. Later the pit was shut but in the church the pilgrims still could get some earth in a bag. 

In the past there must have been a thorn bush next to the Sint Ermelindiskerk (church of Saint Ermelinde) in Meldert (municipality Hoegaarden in the province Flemish Brabant in Belgium). According to the legend the thorn bush started growing there as the staff of Saint Ermelinde sprouted. From this place the peasants took some earth home. They threw it on their fields. 

Go back to part one  

Text: Jan Weertz

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