The miraculous statue of ‘Our Lady in ‘t Zand’
The Chapel in ‘t Zand is well known for its miraculous statue of ‘Our Lady in ‘t Zand’.
The first chapel was built in 1418, commissioned by the city of Roermond, and was dedicated to Mary. The miraculous statue is not yet mentioned.
Between 1610-1613 a bigger chapel was built. This new chapel is linked to the Counter-Reformation, the reform movement within the Catholic Church which had started in the 16th century in response to the Protestant Reformation. Roermond was in those days the center of a Catholic enclave between Protestant areas which was still under Habsburg administration. The secular and spiritual authorities in Roermond and the Catholic Habsburg Government in Brussels wanted to turn the city into a place of pilgrimage and stimulated the veneration of Our Lady in ‘t Zand.
From that moment on worship rose and pilgrimage grew steadily.
In the late 17th century the worship of Mary was connected with a legend about a shepherd who found in the 15th century the statue of Mary in a well. According to this legend the statue performed miracles and a chapel to worship Mary was built on the place where it was found.
The present chapel dates from 1896. The large number of pilgrims required a larger chapel. It was built over the old chapel so that the services could continue as long as possible.
The statue itself is probably manufactured in a workshop in Mechelen, Belgium, around 1500. It is for the first time mentioned in a chronicle from 1578 and was known for answered prayers. The statue became special and in time the legend about Our Lady in ‘t Zand arose.
Today the Chapel in ‘t Zand is one of the most visited pilgrimage churches in the Netherlands. Throughout the year pilgrims come from near and far, even across borders.
Famous is the Sinti pilgrimage to the Chapel in ‘t Zand which is held, since 1982, each year in July. For an impression of the Sinti pilgrimage, see the pictures below.
© photos: Bea and Dick Hoeks-De Laat, 2007