St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

St Michael St Gudulaca Brussels

Saint Michael is known as the guardian of the Catholic church and the patron saint of Brussels since the Middle Ages. He is the Archangel and defends the church from Satan and his minions. Michael became the saint of Brussels when the Count of Leuven and Governor of Brussels, Lambert II, was sentenced to death by his father, Henry I, for having kidnapped his father’s fiancée. Lambert II prayed to St. Michael to save him and he miraculously escaped. Lambert II proclaimed Michael to be the patron saint of the town.

Saint Gudula was born in Belgium and is believed to have died between 680 and 714. She was educated in the Nivelles Abbey by her godmother. Upon her godmother’s death, Gudula moved back to Moorsel and devoted herself to good works and her religion until her death. She is often shown in drawings carrying a lantern. This refers to a legend that states Gudula always went to church before the rooster crowed and a demon, wanting to stray her off the path, extinguished her candle. However, God rekindled her lantern and she safely made her way to the church.

On June 6, 1579, the church was pillaged by beggars, and the relics of the saints were disinterred and scattered. After that Saint Gudula’s skull was interred at the church of St. Hildegard in Eibingen, Germany.

Every second and fourth Saturday of the month it is possible to climb up the towers for an incredible view of the city. However, you must book this in advance.  The crypt is available to tour by appointment only.

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.

Fun Facts:

  • Peregrine falcons have made their home in the towers and are protected by the church members. However, they were exterminated from Belgium and other parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. The birds made their meager return to Belgium in the 1990s and now there are over 200 pairs of falcons. Click here to see webcam videos and updates on the birds nesting in the church towers.
  • Writer, Victor Hugo, believed St. Michael and St. Gudula to be the purest example of the Gothic architectural movement.

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St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

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Kristal Ham

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