Chapel for Europe
Chapel for Europe
Rue Van Maerlant,22-24
Etterbeek, Brussels, Belgium, 1040
Above photograph of Dendermonde Béguinage by Peter de Waele.
The photograph exhibition Belgian Beguinages has been set up and inaugurated as part of the cycle “Women of Faith. Realities and Dreams” organized by Chapel for Europe, with the support of the Brussels Catholic Church, during this past month of March.
The photograph exhibition shows 15 photographs of the most well preserved and well known “béguinages” in Belgium, witness of the lives and history of the Béguines Mouvement and still sign for our times.
Throughout Europe, the Béguines were surely original mystics: they were seeking God through an incessant loving dialogue with Him. They remain inspiring figures for today’s spirituality.
Opening times for the exhibition: Monday to Thursday – 12:00 to 14:00.
The exhibition will run until Monday 08.05.2023.
Please note that the Chapel will be closed this coming April 6, 7 and 10.
Origins and development of the Beguine Movement
The issues and genesis of the Beguine movement are quite complex. Despite frequent research on the subject, some questions still remain unanswered.
While for most traditional monastic orders a precise foundation date and founder can easily be traced, the Beguines suddenly emerged from obscurity towards the end of the twelfth century. For a long time, the demographic factor was put forward as the main reason for the emergence of this women’s movement: at the time, men were either on crusades or engaged in arm wrestling and this would have created a ‘surplus’ of women. However, this assumption rests largely on a hypothesis since no real population figures exist for the 12th and 13th centuries.
An explanation must rather be found in the numerous religious movements that arose from the twelfth century onward as a reaction against abuses in the church. People therefore reached back to the ideals of the first Christians and to the foundations of the gospel. Norbertus of Magdeburg (1082-1134), Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1134) and later Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) and Dominicus Guzman (1170-1221) were the pre-eminent examples in this regard: living an apostolic life in poverty.
Other religious, the hermits and recluses, wanted to withdraw from the world to live a spiritual life in seclusion. Women were particularly attracted to this ideal. They secluded themselves, alone or with a few together, in a hermitage next to a church, a chapel, an abbey and later next to a hospital or leprosis. These women were called ‘reclusae’ or ‘mulieres religiosae’ (pious women). Pretty soon, these communities grew into small agglomerations around an abbey. This gave rise to double monasteries where these women formed the ‘third-order group’ alongside the already existing first order for priests and the second for ‘real’ monastics.