La Saint-Feuillen 2012

Since its inception in the 1500s, every seven years the devoted folks around the Belgian city of Fosses-la-Ville would come together for the grand procession of Saint Feuillen. The march commemorates and re-enacts the townspeople’s procession in the year 656 to bring back to Fosses the remains of Foillan, an Irish monk who came to evangelize and found a monastery in Belgium and then was assassinated on October 31, 655. For his life’s work and ultimate sacrifice, Foillan then became Saint Feuillen, patron saint to the city and truly entire region.

This religious procession had been carried out for the last nine centuries (without interruption even during the chaos of WWII) and a military element was added to it in 1566. The flags, fifes, and drums of the Arquebusiers (regiment) that escorted the procession of the religious relics only add more pomp and circumstance to an already highly popular pilgrimage.

Eventually other brigades and regiments joined in with the military escort of the procession. My photos below are of the colors and flavors of a very special day in Fosses-la-Ville. Once I saw the 3000+ participants in full gear, some re-enacting the dangers on a battlefield…

and others marching down the city center in a 3-hour parade, I can see why they need 7 years to prepare for the next procession. All expenses are borne by the participants, some of whom have done it for many generations. It was a marvelous experience.

If a genie came out of a bottle and asked what I would want to be for a few weeks, I would probably say a wartime photo journalist. If time travel were also included in this fantasy, I would be a peer of Ernest Hemingway, writing while photographing to make sense out of why men wage wars…but I digress. Let’s just say it’s probably why I really enjoy these historical re-enactments. And if there are horses in the mix, well, that’s just icing on the cake:

Heck, there was also Napoleon in this parade:

But as you’ve been so kindly patient to indulge me in this lengthy parade of photos, I’ve saved the best for last…the footwear!

Next post, we’re going to Paris and then I’ll circle back to Stockholm. And until then…


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