A miracle in medieval Amsterdam
Amsterdam is sometimes called the ‘Miracle City’. The Dutch capital has not earned this name on account of its permissive image, but because it has been a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. According to tradition, on 15 March 1345, a man lay seriously ill in his house on the Kalverstraat. Thinking he was about to die he called for a priest to administer the last rites, including the Blessed Sacrament. After receiving the host, the man became sick and finally vomited and gave up the Holy Eucharist. As was the custom, what he had brought up was thrown on the fire. The next morning the Host was discovered undamaged in the ashes. It was put into a box and taken by a priest to the parish church (the present-day Oude Kerk), but on two occasions miraculously The Holy Host made its way back to the house on the Kalverstraat.
Start of a tradition
This was the beginning of the tradition known in Amsterdam as the Miracle Procession, since people had taken it as a sign that they should spread word of what had happened. Some years later a chapel was built on the site of the miracle. The veneration of this mediaeval miracle meant that Amsterdam became an important centre of pilgrimage and people came from far and wide to take part in the large and magnificent Procession
Each year, the week of celebration of the Miracle begins on the Wednesday after the 12th of March. From Wednesday till Saturday, Holy Masses of devotion are celebrated in the Beguinage. But the big yearly manifestation is still the Silent Procession, held on Saturday night until Sunday morning. Pilgrims travel in buses from all over the Netherlands to the centre of Amsterdam. They first participate in a Mass in one of the parish churches of Amsterdam and later take part in the Silent Procession at different times in the night, following the route. The main characteristic of this ‘walk’ or procession is the fact that it is done in silence, without loud prayers or songs and without clerical vestments or other religious attributes. It takes about an hour to complete the walk and it is done between midnight and four o’clock on Sunday morning.
People from Leiden also participate in the Silent Procession. The program starts at 20.00 departure Petrus church, followed by a bus trip to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam the Mass is celebrated and the procession will be walked in silence. Return in Leiden between 01.30 and 02.00 The cost are €10,- and registration can be done at www.stilleomgamgleiden.nl (button “inschrijven”, “insstapplaats” = city of departure), or with the lists in the church. For more information contact Willem Bakermans, email@example.com telephone 0651421079.