All Saints Chapel
A chapel of All Saints existed as far back as 1307, owned by the archers of the Saint George Guild. It was vandalized twice and rebuilt, including after the acts of plunder by the Geuzen in 1578. This was when the stained-glass windows of the Diest stained-glass artist Fongaerts, were lost.
In 1854, the chapel had to make way for the construction of the citadel. It was immediately rebuilt in a neoclassical style on the flanks of the Kluisberg (hill in Flemish Ardennes) of that time, now known as the 'Allerheiligenberg' (All Saints Mountain). A built-in stone tablet dating from 1658 reminds us of the earlier Baroque-style chapel, just like the folkloristic wood sculptures.
In the fifties, the chapel fell into disrepair due to a leak in the roof that was not repaired. The renovations started in 2000. In addition, the All Saints Committee was established at the same time. This breathed new life into the All Saints Pilgrimage (Allerheiligenbegankenis), an age-old tradition.
On 31 October, participants walk through the streets in a candlelit procession. They end in the chapel for the celebration of the Eucharist. All Saints' Day really gets started on 1 November. Pilgrims from all over the country visit the chapel to pray to a specific saint. There's plenty of choice, since the chapel has more than 160 statues of saints from all over the world.
Ex votos (Latin – ex voto suscepto, 'from the vow made')
Pilgrims often bring along ex votos. These are small wax sculptures with symbolic value that serve as a sacrifice. For example, someone who prays to be relieved of a stubborn headache brings a statuette in the form of a head or buys one at the location. Diest is one of the few places where this use and sale of ex votos still occurs.
– from 1 to 3 November, from 9 to 17:00 hours.
– from 4 to 9 November: 8 to 12:00 hours and 13 to 17:00 hours.
– after All Saints, every Wednesday of November: 8 to 12:00 hours.
– July/ August: every Sat, Sun and public holiday open from 14 to 17:00 hours.
– For groups by appointment at Tourist Information Diest.
Entrance fee: €10/ group.