9|03|2016 Reliquary shrine of St Odilia

On 9 March the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) went on mission to the Mariënlof Abbey in Kerniel (Limburg, Belgium) for the solemn opening of the  reliquary shrine of St Odilia from 1292. It is the oldest dated art work on panel in the Low Countries. It was acknowledged in 2012 by the Flemish Government as a ‘Topstuk', an art work in Flanders of great art historical importance.    

The solemn opening took place under the watchful eye of Mgr Patrick Hoogmartens, bishop of Hasselt, and was widely reported upon by the media.

Jean-Albert Glatigny studied the interior of the shrine. The Flanders Heritage Agency had delegated Kim Quintelier to carefully study and document each  relic. Katrien Van Acker and Stéphane Bazzo (KIK-IRPA) photographed the event and the contents of the shrine. Lastly Marco Bonafini (KIK-IRPA) took some samples of the relics for analysis in our radiocarbon dating lab. The project was coordinated by Jeroen Reyniers, by order of the sisters of the Mariënlof Abbey.

This historical opening would not have been possible without the detailed study conducted in 2014-2015 with the financial support of the Jean-Jacques Comhaire Fund of the King Baudouin Foundation. It was carried out by Jeroen Reyniers, working half-time for Illuminare - Centre for the Study of Medieval Art of the K.U. Leuven, while the KIK-IRPA was partner of the scientific research project.

The first results of the solemn opening will be presented to the public on the Erfgoeddag (Heritage Day) of 24 April in Mariënlof Abbey in Kerniel.

The ambitious research project, the good care for the shrine and future initiatives to further document and promote this ‘Topstuk' have been made possible thanks to the following partners (in alphabetical order):

Bisdom Hasselt

Centre for the Study of Medieval Art (K.U. Leuven)

Erfgoed Haspengouw

Flanders Heritage Agency

King Baudouin Foundation (Jean-Jacques Comhaire Fund)

Kruisheren Maaseik

Kunsten en Erfgoed - Topstukkenraad

Meyvaert Glass Engineering

Provincie Limburg - PCCE

Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA)

Haspengouw TV

Werkgroep Colen-Loon-Haspinga

We wish to express our greatest thanks and recognition to the sisters of Mariënlof Abbey who have been taking good care of the shrine for more than a century.

See the coverage by Haspengouw TV (in Dutch)

More information on the preceding large-scale research