Holy Blood Day: an intense day
10.25 hours: Morning Procession (Burg)
Bruges will already be in a festive mood in the morning, even though the actual Blood Procession won’t be taking place until the afternoon. The relic of the Holy Blood will be placed in the shrine on the Burg at 10.25 hours, whilst the victory bell is ringing in the belfry. Accompanied by a band and the emblems of the basilica, the Noble Brotherhood of the Holy Blood will take the shrine and a delegation from the city council to the Saint Saviour’s Cathedral for a solemn Eucharistic celebration.
11.00 hours: Solemn celebration (Saint Saviours’s Cathedral)
As was the case in previous centuries, the Bishop of Bruges invites Bishops from neighbouring dioceses and Abbots from the surrounding abbeys to the Holy Blood Day. Nowadays the nuncio and representatives from the Bruges Anglican and Orthodox Church are present too. The bishop leads this international celebration. There is an opportunity to venerate the relic of the Holy Blood after Mass.
14.30 hours: The actual Procession of the Holy Blood (inner city)
The actual Procession of the Holy Blood starts at 14.30 hours. The procession leaves from the Dijver. The passage of the procession will take about an hour and a half at any point along the route. Take a look at Practical for more details about the route.
17.30 hours: Blessing with the relic (Burg)
There will be a closing ceremony on the Burg after the procession, which everyone is invited to.
Delen 1 en 2: Het Oude en Nieuwe Testament
Parts 1 and 2: The Old and New Testament
Scenes from the Old and New Testament are reviewed during the first and second part of the Holy Blood Procession. These scenes have been interpreted in a style which puts us in mind of the Burgundian period, when guilds, crafts, representatives from foreign nations, brotherhoods and chambers of rhetoric were responsible for the interpretation. As befits an evocation which focusses on Jesus’ suffering, special attention will be devoted to the Biblical passion story.
Part 3: Historic section
According to an old tradition, Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders in 1150, brought the relic of the Holy Blood with him from the Holy Land to Bruges after the Second Crusade. Since that time the precious gem has been preserved and venerated in the Basilica of the Holy Blood on the Burg. Perhaps we will never completely agree on the correct historic facts. The fact is that the legend carries a wealth of authentic folk beliefs and folk charm. This legend is demonstrated in the third part of the procession.
Part 4: Religious section
The fourth part of the Procession of the Holy Blood sketches out the rich tradition of the relic veneration. Preceded by members of the Noble Brotherhood of the Holy Blood, two prelates carry the golden shrine with the relic: a subdued moment which leaves a deep impression on the audience. The final piece of the procession is the mobile Bayard, which scatters festive sounds across the crowd.
You can opt to follow the Procession of the Holy Blood with your smartphone. You can read the background information about the procession on the free app. You can free download the iHolyBlood app in the App Store. This will provide you with more information regarding the procession’s background, as well as an interpretation per group. The app represents the ideal instrument for substantively following the procession as it passes by.
You can read a detailed explanation regarding the Procession of the Holy Blood in the programme booklet. This will provide you with a clear overview of the four different parts, with explanations regarding the various groups being reviewed in both text and images. The programme booklet serves as a useful guide, both for during and after the actual procession. It will provide you with a clear interpretation regarding the procession’s setup and in relation to all the groups which form part of it.
You can purchase the programme booklet in advance from Tourist Info ‘t Zand (Concertgebouw) and Tourist Info Markt (Historium) for €8-00. You can also buy a copy in the streets on the day of the procession, some time before the procession passes by. Youngsters from a youth movement will be walking around the Bruges streets and offering the programme booklet for sale at €10-00.