This is one of the most curious events, originating in 1659 according to some, in 1734, according to others, the latter being the period in which the plague decimated the provinces of Brabant and Antwerp.
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Background: This is one of the most curious events, originating in 1659 according to some, in 1734, according to others, the latter being the period in which the plague decimated the provinces of Brabant and Antwerp. Suffering terribly from the terrible disease, miserable in body and spirit, many people went on pilgrimage to Notre-Dame at Montaigu.
One Sunday night in November, the pilgrims, holding candles and lanterns, followed the image of the Virgin, worshipped there since 1514, all around the town. The plague retreated and ceased. Since then the faithful have repeated the same procession. Formerly it took place from 19 to 22 hours. Since 1876, it occurs in the afternoon about 15 hours.
Candles burn in every window; and like those escorting the statue of the Virgin, those who kneel beside the road hold several candles or plant them in groups in the ground. Words and photographs cannot depict the multitude with its innumerable flickering flames, its trembling lights that blaze in the night falling on Notre-Dame de Montaigu.
From all the regions of Flanders, from Wallony and Holland and France many pilgrims gather faithfully there annually. The crowds of pilgrims coming to Montaigu each year are estimated at 50.000.
Once the procession over, the peasants take their candles home and light them in their stables to protect the animals from all sorts of diseases.