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Route Vlaams-Brabant

Theodoor van loon and the archdukes of Austria

Between Zichem and Diest, in the Middle Ages, an oak tree in the form of a cross stood on a hilltop. A religious man hang a statue of Virgin Mary on a branch, and since then, numerous people visit the place to pray. In 1602, a wooden chapel was built on the place where the oak once stood, in 1604 it was replaced by a stone version. Archdukes Albrecht and Isabella extended the little chapel to a courteous basilica, that is still standing there today. 

This magnificent Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel was decorated with seven paintings from the Flemish Master Theodoor van Loon. The impressive masterpieces depict different moments from the life of Virgin Mary. There are seven paintings for a reason! The number symbolizes the seven happy and seven sad moments from her life. 

Curious for more? In the fourteenth-century Church of Saint Catherine in the beguinage of Diest, the Four Evangelists from the same master ornament the place since the seventeenth century. Take a look in the marvellous baroque and rococo interior, you won’t know where to look first!