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In the church Saint-Nicolas-Outremeuse, Rue Fosse-aux-Raines 9, 4020 Liège, 16th century, life size, painted wood. Open Mon, Tue, Thurs, 8-12, Sundays during mass at 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
photo: Joëlle Sacré

La Vierge Noire d'Outremeuse

(The Black Madonna of Outremeuse)


Outremeuse is a part of town that is surrounded by two arms of the river Meuse. Hence its name, which means: between the Meuse. This neighborhood has a very strong sense of identity. It calls itself the “free republic of Outremeuse” and possesses its own festival, folklore, fun rituals, cartoon characters, special “fire water”, and of course, its own Black Madonna.

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In case anybody should ever doubt that she is indeed Black, or if you can't get into the church, every other house on the street leading to her church has a little shrine to the Black Madonna.

Her special day is August 15th, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, a national holiday in France and Belgium. The “free republic of Outremeuse” celebrates it for 3 days with lots of music, drinking, parades, puppet shows and a procession of the Black Madonna. She is carried by six Scouts of Unity of Our Lady of Outremeuse and the faithful place flowers on her float as she comes by.

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If you find the church locked, ask in the bar across the street if this nice lady still has the foot long key or if somebody else could open it for you. If you say you come from far away and are writing a book, you might get lucky.