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I. Belgian beguinages

II. History, life, spirituality

III. Beatrice of Nazareth

life and context

7 Manners


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Maagdendal and  Bartholomew


The following is a translation of information found on the Oplinter-site  (mainly from the work cited there: Louis Ginckels, previous community secretary of Oplinter, "Oplinter vroeger en nu", 1963). I want to thank Willy Van Esch for maintaining this site and for his kind permission to use the texts. 

A note of caution though: a lot of this information is not available in Beatrice's Vita, and some of it does not quite accord with De Ganck's story (cf. last page). On this note I reproduce it anyway, as I have (at present) no means of deciding between the sources. 

Beatrice's father, Bartholomew of Tienen, was born around 1150 from a simple family. He followed lessons in Leuven with Master Heribertus, a nobleman. After completing his education, he left for the  Holy Land, where he fought under the walls of Jerusalem. Shortly after his return he entered the profession of his father (who presumably was - judging by his name: De Vleeschouwer - a butcher). Later he married Gertrudis, who gave him two sons and four daughters, all of whom became religious (as we saw: either lay or "semi-religious", or professed).

This source tells us that in 1215 Bartholomew paid for the founding of the Abbey of Maagdendal, near Oplinter. I am not quite sure but it seems he bequeathed some of his land holdings in Oplinter to the Order of Citeaux - also Arnold, Lord of Wezenmaal and Oplinter, and Henry I, duke of Brabant seem to have played a role. In any case,  Bartholomew became the general leader of this community. He lived a long life, died in 1247, when he was 97 years old. 

In 1867 Bartholomew was commemorated by the city of Tienen. In the main church the city placed a window that depicts Bartholomew with his daughter, who each carry a cloister, surrounded by local historical figures. As for Maagdendal: by the Decree of the French Republic, of 6 December 1796,  the sisters were driven from their home. On 30 June 1798 the buildings were publicly sold. Now there is still a large homestead on the site. The photograph below (taken by Willy Van Esch) is of its  entrance building.