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Art, life and medicine over the centuries at Lessines TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: NOTRE-DAME À LA ROSE

The small town of Lessines, just an hour’s drive south-west of Brussels may not be well known internationally, but to many of those in-the-know, it is renowned as home to one of Belgium’s most impressive heritage sites.

buildings we see today date from between the 16th and 18th centuries. Arranged around a central cloistered quadrangle and an internal garden, the buildings’ architecture includes examples of not only Gothic and Renaissance but also Baroque.

“It’s also very special to be able to understand the life of the nuns and medical practitioners who lived at the convent hospital and gain an insight into the spiritual and physical suffering of their communities over the years.

The Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital dates back to 1242 and is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. It is also one of the last surviving examples of a medieval hospital which for centuries operated as an entirely self-sufficient estate with its own farm and kitchen garden, cold storage facility and cemetery.

As well as its architecture, Notre-Dame à la Rose is also home to an extraordinary permanent collection of art and medical artefacts spanning several centuries.

“Our collections can be seen as a history of western beliefs through the ages, but for me, what is really unique about the Hospital is that it brings together science, religion, humanism, suffering, charity, spirituality and, above all, hope.”

For some 750 years, the building was home to a charitably–run, convent hospital servicing the local community and the 92  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020

“It’s very rare,” begins Raphael Debruyn, curator at Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital, “to find a place where you can trace the evolution of our approach to life – both physical and spiritual, with original artefacts and objects still in their original surroundings.

Art collection The Hospital’s impressive art collection contains several thousand works ranging from religious paintings on both wood and canvas from the 15th to 20th

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Discover Benelux, Issue 75, March 2020  

Inside the March issue you can enjoy an exclusive interview with Brussels-born comedian Guillermo Guiz, a guide to some of the most deliciou...

Discover Benelux, Issue 75, March 2020  

Inside the March issue you can enjoy an exclusive interview with Brussels-born comedian Guillermo Guiz, a guide to some of the most deliciou...