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Belgium in Brief: The Mystery Of The Mayor’s Heart

Credit: Belga/Pixabay

“Let me tell you the story of how the mayor of a Belgian town ended up with his heart in the fountain” would be the start of a fairytale worthy of retelling by the brothers Grimm.

Bizarrely, it’s totally true. So, what exactly happened to the heart of the 19th-century mayor Pierre David? Here are the basics:

  • He died in 1839
  • 3 days later his heart was removed – with the intention of placing it in a memorial.
  • This did not happen, so his heart sat in a jar in the town hall for four decades.
  • The next steps get a little fuzzy, but by all accounts the heart kind of vanished until last summer, when a small metal box was found during renovations of a fountain Verviers.
  • It contained an actual heart, with an inscription saying it contained the (missing?) heart of Pierre David, specifically.

So not only was the mayor’s heart kept… it was also kept in a public-ish place, lost, buried, and then discovered.

I really wouldn’t have wanted to be the workman who found it, but man does this sounds like a story deserving of a big-budget movie.

Know any other Belgian folklore that could be true? Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



1. Belgian coast deploys extra police ahead of an expected busy weekend

The Belgian coast is bracing itself for an influx of visitors hoping to take advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend.

Several seaside towns will deploy additional police officers in order to avoid anticipated overcrowding at a time when strict coronavirus measures limit the number of people who can gather in one space. Read More.

2. Politicians question if Belgium still needs curfew

Several Belgian politicians have raised concerns about whether the country’s curfew is still a necessary and justifiable measure, following the recent pressure on the restriction in the Netherlands.

While a recent court decision in the Netherlands declaring the curfew a “far-reaching infringement of the right to freedom of movement” will not change anything for Belgium, Egbert Lachaert, the leader of the Flemish liberal Open VLD party, became the latest politician questioning the rule on Thursday evening. Read more.

3. ‘Nothing but misery’: Flemish health minister lashes out at Moderna

Flemish Public Health Minister Wouter Beke heavily criticised pharmaceutical company Moderna for its supply problems during a visit to a vaccination centre in Maasmechelen on Thursday.

He was referring in particular to the repeated delays of the deliveries from Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, which was approved for use by the EU in early January. Read More.

4. Relaxing rules before Easter is ‘shooting ourselves in the foot’, says Van Gucht

If Belgium begins to relax some coronavirus measures before Easter, the country would be “shooting itself in the foot,” according to interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

Even though Belgium’s coronavirus infection and hospitalisation figures are continuing their downward trend, they are not good enough to start relaxing yet, according to Van Gucht, referring to the set thresholds of 800 infections and 75 hospitalisations per day that should be reached first. Read More.

5. Entire kindergarten tested in Antwerp after coronavirus outbreak

Mass testing of around 115 people will take place at a Belgian kindergarten after it saw a large outbreak of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), with some cases of the British variant detected.

The entire kindergarten of WIGO in Essen, in the province of Antwerp, will be tested on Friday after several teachers and children tested positive, the school and local council said on Thursday. Read More.

6. TUI scraps all trips to non-European destinations during Easter holidays

Tour operator TUI has cancelled all its journeys to non-European destinations until the end of April, and therefore also during the Easter holidays, the company announced on Friday.

“At the moment, there are few prospects that we can fly to non-European and distant destinations in April,” TUI Belgium spokesperson Sarah Saucin confirmed to The Brussels Times. Read More.

7. Activist who ate live bat in front of European Parliament taken into police custody, released

The Russian activist and performance artist Petr Davydtchenko was taken to a Brussels police station on Wednesday after returning to the scene of a demonstration in which he made good on a promise to eat a live bat outside of the European Parliament. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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