A Walloon urban legend was confirmed as true on Tuesday after construction workers dug out the heart of the first mayor of the city from a fountain named after him.
Officials in the city of Verviers, east of Liège, said on Tuesday that the heart of the city’s first mayor, Pierre David, was found during renovation works of an eponymous fountain in the city centre.
The discovery on 20 August confirms a years-long urban legend passed down across generations according to which, upon his death, David’s heart was placed inside a fountain built and named after him.
According to the legend, city officials decided to remove his heart when David died at age 58, which was first kept in the town hall and then placed in the fountain upon its completion.
The heart was found inside a rusted metal case which officials said was not opened and will be exhibited in the local fine arts museum until mid-September.
“In the utmost respect and with a lot of professionalism, staff worked to preserve the richness of our patrimony,” local councillor Christine Magis wrote on Facebook, describing how museum workers readied the mayor’s heart to be put on display.
David oversaw city affairs since 1798 and until his death in 1839, first as the highest ranking official in the city and then as mayor after the Belgian Revolution of 1830.
He is credited with bringing peace back into the city after the revolution and with creating the first firefighter corps and secondary school, and his legacy in the city is palpable in busts erected to him and streets named after him.
Residents curious to see the urban legend for themselves can access the exhibition in Verviers’ Fine Arts Museum until 20 September.
The Brussels Times