Blessed earth and stone powder
against diseases and other discomforts (part 2)
Use in The Netherlands and
for the churches and chapels from part 1, there have been more places
where people could get blessed earth and blessed stone powder. From
literature review we learned the following.
Places where in the past people
could get blessed or sacred earth
Vaals lies in the extreme southeast of the Dutch province Limburg. In
the past the monks from the Camelitessenklooster (Convent of the
Carmelites) sold stone powder as a medicine. Unfortunately this convent
doesn't exist anymore.
In Heerle (municipality Roosendaal in the Dutch province North-Brabant)
people could get blessed white sand until the end of the last century.
They threw this so-called Gertrudissand on places where mice and rats
caused them trouble.
- The Onze Lieve Vrouw Tenhemelopnemingkerk
In Prinsenbeek (municipality Breda in the Dutch province North-Brabant)
there is also a connection between the holy Gertrude of Nivelles and
special sand. The people could get this mice-sand in the Onze Lieve
Vrouw Tenhemelopnemingkerk (church). With this sand they protected the
harvest against mice and rats. According to the legend the holy
Gertrude lived in Prinsenbeek. Each time when mice and rats ate their
harvest, Saint Gertrude helped them to get rid of these rodents. Saint
Gertrude is worshipped as the patron saint against rats and
In Woensdrecht (in the Dutch province North-Brabant) the people worship
the holy Gertrude of Nivelles. In the past you could take home some
blessed sand on the anniversary of her death on the 17th of March. Just
like in Heerle and Prinsenbeek this sand was used as a protection
against rats and mice. The sand stood in a bin in the back of the
Gertrudiskerk - Vorst
In Vorst (in the province Antwerp in Belgium) Gertrude of Nivelles was
not only asked for help against rats and mice but also to cure wounds
on the nose and the lips and to get rid of eczema. The people also
thought Gertrude could help when somebody had a mental illness or as
the devil tried to seduce them. One also believed Gertrude could help
when the plague or other epidemic diseases ravaged the country.
Pilgrims took some earth of the cemetery home to use it for all kinds
Saint Veronus of Lembeek or Saint Vroon is worshipped in Lembeek
(municipality Halle in the province Flemish Brabant in Belgium). People
asked his assistance for different diseases and also for headaches,
meningitis and fever. In the past pilgrims took home some earth from a
pit at the grave of the saint. They put this earth in a little bag. At
night the bag was laid under the head. In this way they hoped to get
cured. Later the pit was shut but in the church the pilgrims still
could get some earth in a bag.
In the past there must have been a thorn bush next to the Sint
Ermelindiskerk (church of Saint Ermelinde) in Meldert (municipality
Hoegaarden in the province Flemish Brabant in Belgium). According to
the legend the thorn bush started growing there as the staff of Saint
Ermelinde sprouted. From this place the peasants took some earth home.
They threw it on their fields.
back to part one
(and translation in English) by Jan Weertz