Basilica of the Holy Blood is a one-of-a-kind chapel. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Yes, legend says that Christ’s blood is in a vial inside this tiny church. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a small church that rivals Notre Dame and Sacre Couer in Paris.
The church is actually a double chapel. It was first constructed in the 12th century and promoted to the rank of basilica in 1923. The original facade was constructed in late Gothic and Renaissance styles in the 16th century. It was demolished in the aftermath of the French Revolution and later rebuilt.
The lower part of the chapel is called the Basilius chapel. It has preserved its original Romanesque style from the 12th to 13th centuries. The church on the first floor is the actual chapel of the Holy Blood. The church itself was originally built in Romanesque style, like the Basilius church on the ground floor. It was changed completely to Gothic style in the 15th century and again in 1823. The silver altar is the place where the relic is preserved during the week. The relic is shown to the public every Friday and every day from the 3rd to the 17th of May. Outside the chapel is the Holy Blood museum, which contains the shrine for the Holy Blood and other treasures belonging to the chapel.
The relic of the Holy Blood: The bottle with the blood has never been opened since its arrival in Bruges. The Bible never mentioned the fact that Christ's blood was preserved. One of the gospels mentions that Joseph of Arimathea preserved the blood after he had washed the dead body of Jesus. It is said that Count Diederik van den Elzas brought the relic containing the blood of Christ from Jerusalem to Bruges after the second crusade. But there is proof that the relic arrived later in Bruges, probably around 1250, and that it came from Constantinople (Istanbul in Turkey).
The upstairs chapel is gorgeous, with stained-glass windows, gothic arches, and a colorful altar that is used every Sunday for mass.
The Procession of the Holy Blood passes every year on Asuncion Day in May through the streets of Bruges. Citizens of Bruges dressed in historical costumes enact during this procession biblical scenes and reenact the arrival of the Count of Flanders, who brought the holy relic to Bruges.