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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 07/25/12

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"MAGIC SHELL" ICE CREAM TOPPING!

   This recipe comes from www.alphamom.com .  Quite simple and sweet!  Enjoy!


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magicshell



This is my kind of holiday! To celebrate we made our own “Magic Shell” ice cream topping.



It was unbelievably easy— and it tastes pretty close to the real thing! My husband even thought it tasted like the dipped cones at Dairy Queen.

All you need is:
1 1/4 Cups Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (measured when solid)





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Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil in the microwave about 1 minute (depending on your microwave). Allow to sit a few minutes to allow the heat of the oil to melt the chocolate chips and then stir until smooth. It will be runny.





 
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 Pour into a bottle. We used a recycled pickle relish bottle. (We recommend a glass bottle if you’re gonna refrigerate and then heat.)


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Store in the refrigerator (though in the summer it’s likely to stay liquidy unrefrigerated). To serve, heat the glass bottle (open cap) in the microwave for 30 seconds until liquid. Stir and continue heating at 30 second intervals if not liquid after the first 30 seconds. Pour over your favorite ice cream and in a few seconds you will see magic!


Notes:
  • You can substitute butter for the coconut oil, however the coconut oil gives the more ‘real’ Magic Shell flavor.
  • You can use milk chocolate chips, but everyone we served preferred the semi-sweet chocolate chips

TOP TEN MOST HAUNTED CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES!!





    Visit even the smallest of towns in the U.S. and you’re likely to hear some local ghost stories and discover a few haunted houses. But some American cities have gained the reputation for being particularly ghost-ridden thanks to their rich and often bizarre historical backgrounds. The following are ten of the most haunted cities to steer away from—or toward, if you dare—this Halloween.


10. San Francisco, California

    San Francisco’s rich cultural makeup, large immigrant population, and a history of natural disasters like earthquakes have helped it develop a reputation as a Mecca of all things haunted. Chinatown alone is home to countless ghost tours and creepy folklore, but the city also boasts a wealth of haunted hotels, mansions, and army bases. Of these, one of the most famous is the Queen Anne Hotel, which served as a school for girls in the 1890s and is said to be haunted by the ghost of its former headmistress, Mary Lake. There are also a number of stories concerning Mary Anne Pleasant, the so-called “Voodoo Queen of San Francisco,” who was a former slave and abolitionist who used a knowledge of the black arts to gain wealth and influence among the city’s elite. Even the trendy San Francisco Art Institute, which is rumored to have been built on top of a graveyard that housed victims of the 1906 earthquake, is said to be the home of several ghosts who have frequently been seen climbing the stairs to a tower that overlooks the ancient cemetery.


Most Haunted Place: Alcatraz





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   Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks, but the former maximum-security prison is also home to some of the city’s weirdest ghost stories. Visitors to the island often claim to see apparitions walking the cellblocks, and sometimes hear voices emanating from what was once the cafeteria.


9. Key West, Florida

    Sunny Key West might not seem like the most probable setting for haunted houses, but this small beach community is home to some of the oldest—and downright creepiest—of all ghost stories. The city’s rich history of buccaneers and rumrunners provides the backdrop for a lot of these ghosts, like those that are said haunt Captain Tony’s Saloon. Before it was a bar, Captain Tony’s was supposedly the location of the island’s morgue, and the tree that grows through the building’s center is said to have been a major site for lynching pirates and other criminals, and many are said to still haunt the premises today. Other local ghost stories concern the writer Ernest Hemingway, who kept a home on Key West for some thirty years. Hemingway’s house, now a museum dedicated to his life and work, is said to house the novelist’s ghost. Some visitors and workers claim to see him walking the grounds, while others have heard the clicking of his typewriter coming from inside the main house.



Most Haunted: Robert the Doll





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    The island’s art and historical museum isn’t haunted, but it does contain one of the creepiest artifacts of Key West’s history in the form of Robert, a large doll that many claim is possessed. The doll was given to painter Gene Otto in the early 1900s, and the young boy soon became deathly afraid of it, as he said it would often threaten him and wake him in the night by throwing furniture around the room. The boy’s parents would often swear they saw the doll moving, and neighbors claimed they often spotted Robert pacing in front of the windows of the house when the family was away.


8. Athens, Ohio

    Athens, Ohio is a small town that is home to the Ohio University as well as some downright strange ghost stories. This small, otherwise peaceful community has inspired stories of hauntings that include everything from a headless train conductor to pagan cults and the violent murders of livestock. Many claim that when plotted on a map, the city’s five major graveyards form the symbol of a pentagram, and strange rituals are at the center of many of Athens’ most famous ghost tales. A lot of these stories date back over a hundred years, when the town became associated with the Spiritualist movement of the 1800s. The most famous tells of Jonathan Koons, a poor farmer who was instructed by ghosts to build a “spirit room” in which apparitions would then manifest and communicate with him from beyond the grave.


Most Haunted Place: Athens Lunatic Asylum




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Night Shift Staff




    There’s nothing creepier than a good old-fashioned insane asylum, and Athens has one of the most famous in the form of the Athens Lunatic Asylum, which operated from 1874 until 1993. The hospital held many violent patients, and is notorious for being the site of hundreds of lobotomies. Since closing, the hospital has been the at the center of numerous ghost stories, most of which are kept alive by the students at the university, which now owns the asylum grounds. The most famous of these concerns Margaret, a deaf-mute patient who supposedly escaped from her room, accidentally became trapped in an abandoned ward, and eventually died of exposure. Her decomposing body was found weeks later, and supposedly the stain that was left on the floor of the ward can still be seen today.



7. Portland, Oregon

    Portland, Oregon has developed a reputation as the most haunted city of the Pacific Northwest thanks to its bizarre history and high number of ghost sightings. One of the city’s most famous haunted houses is Pittock Mansion, an ornate house that was built in 1914 by a wealthy businessman and his wife, both of whom died shortly thereafter. Visitors have claimed to have seen apparitions and heard footsteps coming from empty rooms, and doors and windows will sometimes open by themselves. Weirdest of all, a portrait of Mr. Pittock, the man who built the house, will inexplicably be found in different parts of the house, as though it can move itself from room to room. In addition to the Pittock house, other Portland haunted places include the Bagdad theater, a movie theater built during the roaring 20s that supposedly houses a number of spirits, and the Willamette river, where in recent years a phantom rowboat has been spotted by several people.


Most Haunted Place: Shanghai Tunnels




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    Portland’s coastal location established it as a shipping hub and port of call for sailors during the 1800s. This eventually led to the rise of a practice known as shanghaiing, wherein unsuspecting men and women were kidnapped from bars or hotels, shipped to the Orient, and impressed into slave labor or prostitution. Portland was notorious for this practice thanks to a series of labyrinthine underground tunnels that run beneath the city streets, which were used by the Shanghaiiers as a safe way to capture and transfer victims to the harbor without being seen. Today, the tunnels are said to be haunted by the ghosts of the people who were kidnapped, many of whom were never seen or heard from again.



6. Charleston, South Carolina

    Known as the “Holy City” for the church spires that dot its skyline, Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., and also one of the most haunted. Victorian mansions line the downtown area known as the Battery, which was a protective artillery installation during the Civil War, and it is here that many of the city’s most haunted houses can be found. Perhaps the most famous is the Battery Carriage House Inn, a hotel where people have reported seeing everything from strange lights, to the gentlemanly ghost of a student who died after leaping off the roof, to a headless torso that appears at guests’ bedsides in the middle of the night. Charleston is also known for a number of ghost stories that originated with the Gullah, a West African culture that populates parts of South Carolina and Georgia. The most famous Gullah horror stories usually center on Boo Hags, a type of blood-red vampire that wears human skin as a mask and feeds on its victim’s energy while they sleep.



Most Haunted Place: the Dock Street Theater




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    Charleston is full of buildings with a checkered past, and one of the most well known is surely the Dock Street Theater. Built in 1809, the theater is said to be the home of two spirits. The first is Nettie, a poor prostitute who was killed near the theater after being struck by lightning. The other is the ghost of Junius Brutus Booth, an actor who is more famous today for being the father of John Wilkes Boothe, the man who killed Abraham Lincoln. Both spirits are said to wander the backstage area of the theater, and many workers and performers claim to have spotted them.

 

5. Salem, Massachusetts

    In 1692, Salem, Mass. became the sight of a series of infamous trials after three local women were accused of using witchcraft to terrorize a trio of young girls. The trials soon escalated into mass hysteria, with townspeople vehemently accusing neighbors and acquaintances, almost all of them unmarried women, of being witches. Over 150 people were arrested and charged, and as may as 19 were eventually executed by hanging. Today, the town of Salem encourages its reputation as “Witch City, USA” and has one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the country. Alongside the tourist shops and museums, though, stand several infamous ghost stories related to the witch trials. One in particular concerns Gallows Hill, the site of several hangings, which is said to be haunted by the spirits of the 19 people lynched for being witches.


Most Haunted Place: Joshua Ward House




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    Known as one of the most haunted houses in America, Joshua Ward House is built on the foundation of the home of George Corwin, the man who served as Sheriff during the Salem witch trials. Corwin is infamous for his role in the death of Giles Corey, a local man who was charged with witchcraft. When Corey refused to enter a plea in court, Corwin used an old English legal precedent and placed him under a board piled with rocks in order to coerce him into talking. Corey never relented, and was eventually crushed to death under the massive weight. To this day, many claim that Corey and Corwin, who is rumored to be buried beneath the foundation of his old home, haunt the Joshua Ward House.


4. Chicago, Illinois


    Thanks to its famous great fire and history of gangsters and underworld criminals like Al Capone, Chicago has developed quite a reputation for being haunted. The city has a number of well known ghost stories that are whispered among the locals each Halloween, and perhaps none is more famous that the story of Resurrection Mary. As the story goes, Mary was a young girl who was hit and killed by a car while leaving a dance hall with her boyfriend. She was buried in nearby Resurrection Cemetery, and ever since she can be periodically seen wandering the streets in her white burial dress, still trying to find her way back home. Another famous story concerns what has come to be known as the “Devil Baby of Hull House,” a child born with scaly skin and a pointed tail who supposedly haunts the house once owned by famed activist Jane Addams.

Most Haunted Place: Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery





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    Rumored to be one of the prohibition-era gangsters’ favorite places to dump bodies, Bachelor’s Grove is an old and decaying burial ground that has been the site of countless stories about ghosts, spirits, and devil worship. Several headstones in the cemetery seem to move at will, and many claim that the spirits of the dead often materialize and walk the grounds at night. The most famous of these is the “White Lady,” the ghost of a young woman who is always seen in a white dress, often cradling a baby in her arms.



3. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    In July of 1863, the small college town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of the biggest military clash of the Civil War, which to this day remains the bloodiest event to ever occur on American soil. Over 150,000 total soldiers converged on the scene, and when the battle was over as many as 50,000 were killed, wounded, or missing. The shadow of the battle still stands over the town today, and many claim the ghosts of dead soldiers haunt the battlefields. What’s unique about Gettysburg is the sheer amount and frequency of its ghost sightings. Some places in the town, like the home of Jenny Wade, a woman who was killed by a stray bullet from the battle, supposedly experience paranormal activity on a daily basis. Elsewhere, there have even been reports of lone visitors to the battlefield park stumbling across what they assume to be a battle reenactment, only to later learn that none took place that day.


Most Haunted Place: The Devil’s Den





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    The Devil’s Den is a rocky outcropping of boulders and shrubs that was the site of one of the clashes of the second day of the battle. The spot is famous for being the location of a small skirmish that took place when a Union artillery unit returned fire on a Confederate sharpshooter who was taking shots at them from behind the rocks. They later found a body, and photographer Alexander Gardner took a photo of it that has since become one of the most iconic images of the battle. But recent evidence suggests that the body in the photo was not the man responsible, and some even claim that Gardner dragged the corpse of another man to the spot in order to stage the picture. Supposedly, this man’s ghost now haunts the Devil’s Den, and to this day visitors to the park often have a great deal of trouble trying to take photos anywhere near the site. Pictures often come out blurry and unusable, and cameras have a strange way of suddenly dying whenever they are turned on in the area.



2. Savannah, Georgia

    With its many cemeteries, gothic mansions, and trees With its many cemeteries, gothic mansions, and trees covered in hanging Spanish moss, Savannah, GA fits the bill of a haunted city about as well as any town in America. It was one of only a few places that escaped being burned during Sherman’s famous “March to the Sea” during the Civil War, and so it still contains a good deal of antebellum architecture that serves as a perfect breeding ground for ghost stories. One example is the Pirates’ House, a restaurant that in the late 1700s served as a pub for a notoriously rough clientele of sailors and buccaneers. As in Portland, shanghaiing was a common practice, and unsuspecting or drunk patrons were often waylaid and then dragged to the harbor via a series of underground tunnels connected to the bar’s rum cellar. To this day, many consider the cellar to be haunted, and it is said that at night the sounds of drunken sailors singing can still be heard.


Most Haunted Place: The Hampton Lillibridge House





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    The Hampton Lillibridge house is an assuming three-story building that was built in 1796 and originally served as a boarding house. It was purchased in the 1960s by a builder who hoped to restore it, and it was then that strange phenomena began to occur. At one point during construction, a portion of the roof collapsed, killing one of the workers. Other builders claimed they would hear voices and footsteps whenever they were alone, and that pieces of construction equipment would often be thrown across the room. Even creepier, they said they often spotted a man in a black suit staring at them from inside the house. Countless exorcisms and investigations have taken place at the house since, and it has gone through several owners, but the presence that haunts it is said to still remain there today.


1. New Orleans, Louisiana

    All southern port towns have their share of ghost stories, but none more so than New Orleans, which has truly embraced its reputation as a center of all things paranormal. All of the criteria that tend to produce ghost legends—a coastal location, a checkered past, a rich cultural history, and a potent mix of old and new world religion— can be found here. The city is full of haunted mansions, taverns, and graveyards, and you can’t go far without hearing stories of cursed pirate ships, Civil War-era spirits, and voodoo hexes. In this realm, one of the most famous figures is undoubtedly Marie Laveau, a Creole woman who gained a massive following during the 1800s as one of the first practitioners of voodoo. She died in 1881, but for years after many people claimed to see her walking throughout the French Quarter, and more than 120 years later many ghostly legends about the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans” still persist.



Most Haunted Place: LaLaurie House




LaLaurie-House




    In the heart of the French Quarter lies an ornate mansion that in the 1800s belonged to physician Louis LaLaurie and his socialite wife Delphine. As the story goes, it was rumored at the time that the couple treated their slaves viciously, and there was evidence Lady LaLaurie was responsible for the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The rumors were validated when one night a fire broke out in the mansion’s kitchen. Firemen raced to the scene, and when they kicked down a door to the slave quarters they were astonished to find several slaves chained to the wall in a kind of makeshift dungeon. Many have since claimed that the LaLaurie’s were performing grotesque surgical experiments on the slaves, but modern evidence suggests that this is probably an exaggeration. Either way, the sadistic couple is said to have soon fled the city, and Lady LaLaurie eventually disappeared. The mansion where the horrors took place still stands today, and several ghosts have been sighted, among them the spirits of both Delphine LaLaurie and the young slave girl she is said to have murdered.

OMMEGANG FROM BRUSSELS, BELGIUM!!




    On the first Thursday of July and the previous Tuesday every summer, the Ommegang lights up the magnificent of Brussels.

History
    The secular setting stages the glorious and majestic procession in Brussels of Emperor Charles V Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. Accompanied by his son Philip, Crown Prince of Spain and Duke of Brabant, and his sisters Eleanor, Queen of France and Mary of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Regent of the Netherlands. This majestic pageant strides along the proud façades that once housed the guilds and the elegant architecture of the Town Hall, one of the handsomest gothic monuments in Belgium.






    Guests of honour sit at the delicately worked windows of the Town Hall to watch the reconstitution of this historical meeting from the beautifully decorated balconies. The Prince of Orange, who would become William the Silent, many ladies in waiting, city councillors, the emperor's bulldog and other hounds, his fal conry train with ladies carrying skittish birds perched proudly on their hands--all accompany the Emperor. The host is the mayor of city of Brussels. All the town's nobles, rich tradesmen and curious townsfolk were graciously invited to the centuries-old Grand Place.
    The pageant winds its way on foot and on horse, flying banners and pennants, in a colourful but solemn token to the opulence of the Renaissance city on display for all to see.
    This was in 1549. And not hing has changed since then, except that today the Ommegang is a theatrical representation of this historical event.




Charles V


Charles V

    Charles V was the son of Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria (son of Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy) and Joan the Mad (daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile).
    Charles' father died when he was just six, leaving him his Burgundy estate, Flanders, Artois and Franche-Comté. The Flemish then called on his paternal grandfather, Maximilian of Austria as regent. In 1516, when his other grandfather, Ferdinand of Aragon, died he became Charles I of Spain with its enormous empire: Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples... and the American colonies.






    At the death of Maximilian in 1519, the throne of the Empire fell vacant. Elections were organised, and Charles was elected in preference to Francis I, thanks to the financial assistance of the banker Fugger.

   He had become Charles V...


The start of a difficult reign(1519-1521)

    His first problem was to gain recognition of his authority in Spain.
In Aragon, the people wanted to maintain their special rights in those provinces; the Castilians recognised his mother, Joan the Mad, as their legitimate sovereign, and generally speaking, the Spanish feared that as emperor, Charles would be overly preoccupied with central Europe.
    So when he left to visit Germany in 1520, revolt broke out in Toledo. It was repressed, but Charles' power continued to be challenged until he returned in 1522.





The struggle with France and the sixth Italian war(1521-1526)

    Conflict with France began in 1521. The French invaded Navarre, but were unsuccessful in the Netherlands. As the war dragged on, a congress was held in Calais, an English possession.
    The mediation of King Henry VIII of England was a failure--on the contrary, the English King concluded an alliance with the Emperor--France was attacked from both Picardy and Spain. In the meantime, the war around Milan continued. By means of a pact with Leo X in 1520, the imperial forces recovered Milan (1521). Parma and Piacenza were returned to the Church. The rout of the French continued after they lost the battle of Bicocca and after the Pope died in 1522
    The following year, Charles V decided to invade France. An imperial army commanded by a French traitor, the High Constable Charles de Bourbon, attempted a sally in Provence but it was stopped. In the north, the English were humiliated, in Burgundy the Germans were pushed back and in Guyenne, the Spanish were stopped. Francis I took these victories to heart and marched on Milan. But the campaign was disastrous--it ended in Pavia where the king was captured (1525).
    He was transferred to Spain, where he was humiliated and cruelly treated by Charles V. Francis I threatened to abdicate, which would have foiled Charles' victory. In the end, the French king was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid in exchange for his freedom (January 1528), but it was never applied.







Charles V's allies change sides--the seventh Italian war(1526-1529)

    The all-powerful Charles V had his allies worried. Henry VIII made overtures to Francis I and Pope Clement VII took the head of a league of Italian states. The league was defeated, and Charles de Bourbon, who had his troops to pay, sacked Rome (1527). The Pope was imprisoned in the name of the emperor, causing indignation in all Europe.
    As the war drew on and on, it became expensive. Francis I and Charles V signed the peace of Cambrai (August 1529) by which the emperor definitively renounced his claim to Burgundy. He visited Italy the following year, re-establishing the Medicis in Florence and was crowned the King of Lombardy and Emperor of the Romans by the Pope.







The crusade against the Turks
    Francis I had signed a Capitulation with the Turks, and Venice preferred to negotiate its own interests peacefully. Charles V was thus on his own in opposing the Ottomans. He had to watch the Hungarian border and the Mediterranean. In the east, the Turks took Belgrade in 1521, followed by Rhodes. They were not stopped until Vienna in 1529.
    The Turks were also making headway in the western Mediterranean with the help of their corsairs (including Barberossa and Dragut). They notably took Tunis in 1534 (recaptured by Doria the following year), Algiers (1541), Tripoli (1551), Penon (1564) and Bougie (1555). Indian gold: In 1503, the Casa de Contratacion centralised the American possessions.






    But their riches did not begin to flow before the discovery of the precious metals in upper Peru in 1545. But as no campaign can triumph without money, Charles V would certainly have been more successful had this discovery been made a few years earlier. By 1545, the Turks had been successful in the Mediterranean and France had not give up an inch of territory.

The end of the reign: the decline of the Hapsburg

    In addition, the money came through Spain, but did not stay there. It created opportunities for other powers, hastening the decline of the Habsburg reign. Charles V had to deal with the Protestants throughout his reign. In 1538, he signed a truce with the Smalkalde league supported by Francis I. In 1547, he overcame the Lutheran princes at the battle of Mühlberg and required their return to the Catholic church in a regulation called the Augsburg Interim.







    But the Protestants claimed allegiance with the new King of France, Henry II. Charles V was nearly taken prisoner at Innsbruck and faced with that show of force, he negotiated the Passau Treaty authorising the exercise of the Protestant religion.
But the trouble continued until the death of the main cause, Maurice Elector of Saxony, and in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was signed, recognising the Protestant faith throughout the empire according to the principal of "cujus regio, ejus religio". Weakened and disappointed, Charles withdraw to the Netherlands and cut them off from the Empire.



Phillip of Spain



Phillip of Spain

    Son of the Emperor Charles the Fifth and the Empress Isabella of Portugal.
    All these festivals of1549 were organised in his honour.
    They aim to make him recognised by the population of the Netherlands as the successor of Charles the Fifth. The prince is the widow of Marie of Portugal. He will mary later on Mary I of England, Queen regnant of England and Ireland, Elisabeth of Valois, Pincess of France and his niece, Marie-Anne de Habsbourg of Austria.
The disorders of the Netherlandswill show that Philip of Spain had not understood the sensivity of these countries, on the contraryto his father, who was their natural Prince
The methodes employed by the Spanish Crown wil cause the separation of the Seventeen Provinces, with,on one hand, the North,The United Provinces, which will take William de Nassau as their leader, and they will follow protestantism. One the other hand , The South, The Meridional Provinces, which will remain attached to the Habsbourg of Spain and later of Austriauntill the French Revolution.. They will preserve catholicism.



Mary of Austria

Mary of Austria
    Regent of the Netherlands for a period of 25 years.
    The fourth daughter of Philip the Handsome and Joan of Castile, Mary was born in Brussels at the Coudenberg Palace, on September 15, 1505. Despite an unhappy childhood and adolescence, she was famed for her abundant energy, which stood her in good stead when she later became regent of the Netherlands. Losing her father at the age of one, she was taken in by her paternal Aunt Margaret, the Governor of the Netherlands, as her mother, Joan of Castile, had been incarcerated as a result of her insanity.







    At seven years of age she became engaged to the heir to the Kingdoms of Hungary and Bohemia. They were wed in 1522. Four years later, the young monarch was killed in a battle against the Turks. The young widow was inconsolable and decided never to marry again, but to remain in Hungary as regent until her brother, Ferdinand, became King of Hungary and Bohemia. He converted the hereditary crowns into hereditary possessions of the house of Habsburg, and so they remained until 1913.
    In 1528, the Queen returned to Mechelen. Two years later, Margaret of Austria suddenly died, thus leaving the post of Governor of the Netherlands vacant. Charles V immediately thought of his sister Mary, who hesitated before accepting the position, for fear of "putting a cord around her neck", at least for a temporary period. The temporary period was to last for 25 years.







    As Duchess of Burgundy, Margaret of Austria enjoyed some degree of independence during time she governed, unlike Mary of Hungary, who turned out to be an obedient regent. She ruled in a zealous and conscientious manner, always ready to agree with her brother. She surprised everyone by displaying sophisticated financial skills and becoming adept at developing military strategies.

The Lady On Sablon's Church
    Erected in 1304 by the crossbow guild in a marshy plain, this chapel was rebuilt at the beginning of the XVth century, as the devotion of Brussel's population for the Virgin's statue kept growing. This statue was brought from Antwerp by Beatrice Soetkens during a night in 1348.






    This tertiary ogival building, that lasted more than one century, had an unusual chancel: without columns and ambulatory. This absence of side parts in front of the eleven lanceolated windows (14 m high) gives it an outstanding slenderness.
The restoration began in 1864 with the chancel, and in 1878 the sides of the nave were cleared from parasitic houses. The restoration was led by the architect Schoy, followed by J. and M. Van Ysendyck. In the right transept, under a superb rose-window, a carving of the XVIIth century represents the boat carrying the miraculous statue.

Ommegang
    The expression "Ommegang" meaning "procession" is derived from the old Flemish words "omme" (around) and "gang" (walk).
    Several Belgian cities had an Ommegang particularly in Flanders. They were always characterised by fervent religious faith, and also included a large, opulent secular participation of the guilds, crafts, and chambers of rhetoric.






    With the name of Beatrice Soetkens and the construction of the church Our Lady of Sablon It all began in 1348, under the reign of Duke John III of Brabant.
    At that time, Brussels was beginning to flourish and was learning how to become a major city. The population of some forty thousand inhabitants was comparable to that of London. The city was surrounded by massive walls four kilometres long, topped with a parapet and boasting fifty towers. Brussels opened seven doors to the world through which goods poured to its markets from the surrounding Brabant countryside and foreign lands. Barges, too, slowly inched their way along the Senne to the heart of the city laden with important loads from other towns.
    The cloth industry had made Brussels rich and tradesmen consorted with the best of society under the supervision of the Amman, an officer of the Duke of Brabant. He owed his authority and competence to the fact that he presided the City Council, saw to the execution of orders and commanded the sergeants at arms.







    But back to our famous Beatrice Soetkens. As tradition would have it, she, the wife of a poor workman in the cloth industry, heard voices one day. She learned that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, wanted to reward the town of Brussels, and particularly the Crossbow-men's guild for having built a chapel in her honour on the hill at the Sablon. Beatrice was given the mission to go to Antwerp and bring back the miraculous statue of the Virgin venerated there as Our Lady of the Branch (O.L.V. op 't Stokske).
These voices totally upset Beatrice--she could do nothing but obey. She hurriedly rowed to Antwerp with her husband, and ran to the cathedral to get the statue. The Sacristan tried to stop her, but how could he resist divine will?

He was petrified on the spot, voiceless and motionless!
    Beatrice returned to the boat in her haste to get back to Brussels. But her husband quickly tired of rowing against the current and the wind. Fortunately the Lord was watching--the boat floated upstream to Brussels on its own volition and landed on the spot where the crossbow-men of the guild were practising.
    Intrigued by the arrival of this tiny craft glowing with an unearthly light and piping sweet music, they questioned Beatrice who recounted the cause and circumstances of her expedition to Antwerp.
    The event was deemed a miracle. Even the townsfolk of Antwerp who stormed to Brussels, agreed that it was extraordinary. They consented to leave the statue at the Sablon to be venerated there in the chapel. In addition, a solemn promise was made to erect a church worthy of the event and to organise an annual procession to carry the Virgin around the church under the protection of the Great Crossbow-men's guild.







So the Ommegang was born!

      The origin of this famous procession was indeed the expression of religious fervour supported by a military authority. Gradually the Ommegang became a great town event. Civil authorities, the crafts, chambers of rhetoric and the guilds took their place in front of the clergy.
    It became the magnificent pageant celebrated through the centuries to modern times. Like every year, the " Ommegang Oppidi Bruxellensis" Royal Society continues in the tradition of these centuries-old pageants with historical reference, in the incomparable setting of the Grand-Place of Brussels.