Oostakker, umwhile spelled Oostacker, is ane o the smawer umwhile municipalities which wur merged intae Ghent (frae which it is anerlie twa miles), the caipital o the Belgian province o East Flanders. The hamlet is mainly kent for its Roman Catholic shrine o the Virgin Mary.
Shrine o Oostakker
The miraculous shrine o the Blessed Virgin is a place o pilgrimage frae Belgium, the Netherlands an Northren Fraunce. It takes its name frae Ghent. Its oreegin as a centre o pilgrimage is comparatively recent, datin frae 1873.
In 1871 the Marquise de Calonne de Courtebourne haed built in the pairk o her estate at Oostacker an aquarium in the form o an airtificial cave or grotto. Ane day, while on a visit tae the pairk, the parish priest, reverend Moreels, suggestit that a statue o Oor Lady o Lourdes be placed amang the rocks. For twa years the grotto remained simply an aquarium, but gradually the members o the family formed the habit o stoppin there tae recite a Hail Mary. Suin it wis decidit tae bless the statue publicly. The ceremony teuk place on 23 Juin 1873, an wis attendit bi nearly aw the inhabitants o the veelage. The pious Flemish peasants asked permission o the awner tae come frequently tae the pairk tae give vent tae their devotion. Accordingly, access wis alloued them on Sunday efternuin. At that time the warld wis ringin wi the fame o Lourdes, an the shrine at Oostakker suin became popular; marvelous graces an wonderful cures wur reportit.
Afore lang Sunday efternuin nae langer sufficed tae receive the throngs o pilgrims, an the pairk wis thrown open tae the public bi the generous awner. Then a lairge Gothic kirk wis built, the cornerstane being laid on 22 Mey 1875, bi Mgr. Bracq. A priest's hoose followed, an the marchioness in memory o her son, a deceased Jesuit, confided shrine, kirk, an hoose tae the Society o Jesus. The faithers teuk possession on 8 Aprile 1877 an on 11 September o the same year the Apostolic nuncio, Seraphino Vannutelli, consecratit the kirk. That pairt o the estate, in which the grotto wis, wis nou definitively given ower tae the service o Oor Lady, a lang avenue being built frae the road tae the shrine an a Way o the Cross erectit. In the early 20t century 60,000 pilgrims came annually, in aboot 450 organized pilgrimages.
- This airticle incorporates text frae a publication nou in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedie. Robert Appleton Company.