Silent Procession – Stille Omgang in Amsterdam
Every year on March 12, a Catholic festival begins in Amsterdam. The tradition started in 1345, when a seriously ill man feeling close to death called the priest for the last Sacrament. A series of miraculous events followed, with the host resisting fire and even on two separate occasions changing its place in the city – from the Oude Kerk where it had been brought after it miraculously resisted fire, back home to the ill man. Years later the chapel and later the church were erected on the place of the first miracle. Every year on Sunday night, following the beginning of the festival, the Silent Procession also called the Silent Walk (Dutch: Stille Omgang) took place through the Amsterdam Old City center.
In the Middle Ages, miracles certified of importance of the city. With the miracle confirmed by the Catholic Church, Amsterdam became the center of pilgrimages from elsewhere in Europe – the Miracle City. Especially after Black Death epidemic wiped out more than half of Europe population in the years 1348-1350, the importance of the Amsterdam miracle rapidly grew. It is only in 1578, when the city council chose for Protestantism, that the procession be banned together with the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, the tradition goes that a small symbolic celebration by little groups of believers, sometimes just a few individuals, was secretly maintained throughout 17th and 18th centuries.
Emancipation of the Catholics in the Netherlands in the 19th C., brought back the Silent Procession in 1881 and since then, it takes place every year. Participants do not dress up, carry neither religious symbols nor flags, there are no loud prayers or singing, it is just a walk in silence, hence also the name the Silent Walk. It takes place around the Old City from the Spui to the place of the Miracle – named Miracle City place (Dutch: Heilige Stad) then to the Nieuwe Kerk and the Oude Kerk and back to the Miracle place and Spui. The church built in 1912 on the place of the miracle was desecralized, it houses today Amsterdam Dungeon, and so Begijnhof Chapel serves as place of worship for this celebration.
Ffrom Spui to the place of the original Miracle at Rokin 78 and along the streets of Old City - Kalverstraat, Nieuwendijk, Prins Hendrikkade, Warmoesstraat, Nes to the place of the Miracle and back to Spui.
Iin March on the first Sunday after March 12, just after the midnight on Saturday