Photos of Leuven

One of the ideas I have about this blog is to show Leuven and surroundings. Something like “a photo a day” – although I don’t think I will be able to post one photo from Leuven really each and every day. Anyway, I will show some, and the picture you see is the first one in this series.

This picture was taken in Grote Begijnhof (Beguinage) of Leuven – nicely preserved historical district.

If you are interested to know a little about Begijnhof, read further:

The Beguinage of Leuven lies on the banks of the River Dyle, in a quarter called “Ten Hove”, south of the city center.

During the 12th century, we see the origin of many new religious movements, most of them trying to return to the old ideals of “living like Christ in his time”. One of these were the “wandering preachers” in Germany. Unlike them, the Albigensians or cathars, in southern France, rejected all ecclesiastic authority and Christian dogmas. Also the Apostolici rejected all ecclesiastic discipline and most dogmas. They also postulated complete renunciation of earthly goods. It is in this context, we see the first appearance of the name “beghina”, mostly in a pejorative meaning, indicating a person who “begs” or stammers (derived from a French word)
After the crusades, under Greek-Byzantine influence, a mystical movement invade the western world. Especially women were attracted by this ideal. They didn’t want to withdraw into the wilderness but retired to hermitages near a cloister, a church or a chapel. These women wanted to devote their lifes to contemplation. This evolution caused the origin of so called “double cloisters”. Cloistered women lived in the immediate neighbourhood of regular monks.

In the beginning, most religious women lived apart. They were certainly stimulated to go and live in groups, convents, because in this way, it was easier to get overview and control over this religious movement. (about 1240) The oldest, still existing document mentions the Beguinage of Leuven in 1232. This beguine convent was founded outside the city walls of those days.

You can read the full article at the website of Leuven University: http://www.cs.kuleuven.be/~maarten/pics/begijnhofleuven/Begleuhis.html

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