News Esther Niehot 7 mei 2022

May Month - March Month in 's-Hertogenbosch

May is the Month of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church; we in 's-Hertogenbosch celebrate it in our own way.

This year, the opening of the May month started on Friday 30 April in the Sint Jan. The theme this year is Mary, beacon of hope and comfort. On this evening The Sweet Mother is dressed in her new dressing gown. This year it is the Robe of Hope and Consolation, specially designed by Margiet Luyten. Then Mary was moved from her permanent place in the Sint Jan to her temporary place next to the altar. In a different place than previous years, all inhabitants of Bosschen now have the opportunity to take a good look at her cloak from all sides.

Blue and white flags

In the entire city of 's-Hertogenbosch, it is clearly visible that it is the month of Mary. Throughout the city the blue and white flags are flying. But where do these colours come from?

Blue: The colour blue is the colour of heaven and is also the colour of Mary. In pictures, Mary is usually depicted with a blue mantle.

White: The colour white is a celebration colour in the church, the colour refers directly to Christ; the light of the world. But the colour white also stands for virginity or innocence. Truth, goodness, love and wisdom, therefore the colour white is also associated with Mary.

In the former Rijke Roomsche Leven in 's-Hertogenbosch, the combination colour blue and white was one of the many traditions as a symbol for Mary. Many young girls wore blue and white clothes. In popular belief, their choice of colour placed them under the protection of the Holy Virgin Mary. Many pregnant women also promised to dedicate their child to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The child had to be dressed in blue and white for seven years, even socks and underwear, and the church checked this very carefully. These children were called Maria's children. Mary had made sure that these children were born healthy.

Tradition in 's-Hertogenbosch

The tradition of the Mariamaand in 's-Hertogenbosch goes back a long time. In 1210, the construction of St. Jan's started. In 1268, a baptistery was built north of the tower, which stood alone. This is the beginning of the present Lady Chapel. When St John's was first built, there was no mention of worshipping Mary; the chapel only served as a baptismal house. Only when in 1381 miraculous things happened to the statue of the Sweet Mother, did the Sweet Mother get a permanent place in the baptistery. Due to the influx of Mary worshippers in 's-Hertogenbosch and St. John's, the chapel was expanded in the last years of the fourteenth century. When the baptismal font was moved to the baptistery, the old baptistery became the Maria Chapel.

Many celebrities have visited 's-Hertogenbosch and of course the Sweet Mother. During the great city fire of 1419, a large part of 's-Hertogenbosch was reduced to ashes. Fortunately, apart from the roof, the Saint John's Chapel and the Lady Chapel were spared. When in July 1584 lightning struck, the damage was greater. The central tower of the cathedral fell down in flames together with the bells and the clockwork. As a result, the Lady Chapel suffered considerably. Fortunately, the municipality of 's-Hertogenbosch was able to repair the damage quickly. Around the year 1500, there were grand plans to rebuild the Sint Jan, with the Maria chapel standing in the way. After various considerations, these plans did not go ahead and the Maria Chapel did not have to be demolished.

Around the mid-16th century, dark clouds hung over 's-Hertogenbosch and the Sweet Mother. The Protestant Reformation tried to penetrate the fortress of 's-Hertogenbosch. On 22 August 1566 rebels entered St. John's; the iconoclasm had reached the Sweet Mother. The militia managed to guard the Chapel of Our Lady and the valuables of the Saint John. The next day, the Sweet Mother was brought to safety by the militia. After that, the rebels entered St John's several times in order to destroy it. Not until April 1567 was order restored in 's-Hertogenbosch.

These disturbances led to the Eighty Years' War and the Republic of the United Netherlands wanted to conquer the city. Where Prince Maurice failed, Prince Frederick Henry succeeded. After the siege, 's-Hertogenbosch fell in 1629. The city fell into State hands and Protestant church services were held in St John's. The Sweet Mother came to Brussels via Antwerp and in 's-Hertogenbosch her chapel was put into use as a meeting hall. In Brussels, the Sweet Mother was venerated and regularly visited by Catholic inhabitants of Bosschen from good backgrounds. There she waited quietly until she could return home. In Brussels she was given the title of "Mother of Gentlemindedness".

In May 1810, when Napoleon visited the city and returned St. John's to the Catholic population of 's-Hertogenbosch, the Maria chapel unfortunately remained empty. The Sweet Mother could not leave Brussels. Only in 1853 did the Sweet Mother return. The Archbishop of 's-Hertogenbosch was able to convince his colleague from Belgium that the statue should return to her house. By means of a solemn procession, the Sweet Mother was brought into the city and placed on her throne in the chapel of St. John's.

Under the rule of the French, the Catholic faith was allowed to become a policy again and with it, the veneration of Mary and the tradition of the May Day celebrations in the city returned in full force.

But times change, also in 's-Hertogenbosch. Active religiosity declines sharply. But still, the May month and the veneration of Mary in 's-Hertogenbosch remains a tradition and the month is still celebrated by many people.

Sweet Mother

On the second Sunday in May, Mother's Day, the annual procession of the Virgin Mary is held. During the procession, the Sweet Mother is carried by members of the Brotherhood of Our Lady. Besides the Bishop of 's-Hertogenbosch, priests, deacons, etc. walk along. The Bossche guild De Oude Schuts and the Stadspijpers (City Pipers) provide ample space for the procession. Brotherhoods from various cities are also invited to participate.

In 2022, the Marian celebrations will be on Saturdays and Sundays. Most celebrations will be accompanied by guilds and choirs. In addition, special activities will be organised in the month of May, during which the inhabitants of Bosschen will meet each other online and offline.

During your next visit to 's-Hertogenbosch, don't forget to pay a visit to our Sweet Mother.

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