Herman Wijns:


Birth

On 29 July 1926 the marriage between Jozef Wijns and Johanna Dens is consecrated. They are a young, dynamic couple from a very Christian family. The first few years the family prospers. They have a large pork butchers's shop with seven employees on the Bredabaan in Merksem (Antwerp).

After four years their wish to have a child is fulfilled. On 15 March 1931 Herman Ludovicus Wijns is born.

When little Herman is three years old, he and his dad walk into the chapel of Our Lady of Refuge during their Sunday walk. There he suddenly walks to the front row where he remains motionless for several minutes. A bishop, who is present at that moment, blesses him and gives him an illustration. For the rest of the day little Herman continues speaking of Mister Bishop.

Little Herman experiences a growing feeling of philanthropy, a charity for poor people that reaches far beyond his young age. More than with other children his innocent honesty is often an example for the adults he meets. He is only five when the event with the gipsy occurs


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Herman Wijns 2 years

Herman Wijns two years

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School years

When Herman is five he starts his first year at the Saint-Eduardusinstituut. He is very happy and has good results. In his second year Herman makes his first Communion, this at his own insistence because he is actually one year too young. When he enters the chapel together with his fellow pupils, he feels in heaven.

After his first Communion his next wish is immediately granted when a friar asks him to become a Eucharistic Crusader . From now the child will receive the Holy Communion every day which is "a great joy" to him.

When Herman is six, the tide is turning in the prosperous life of the family. Because of the pre-war years of crisis and the war itself, the family is reduced to poverty. Alleged friends remain absent and there is starvation.

At the age of nine he becomes an acolyte. Although it is minus 20░C and his feet are blistered, although the streets are dangerous because of the war, nothing can stop Herman from going to church every day.

After a trial period of three years, Herman is solemnly incorporated as a Eucharistic Crusader. With his little savings he pays to have his picture taken, the decoration of the E.C. pinned on his winter coat which he earned himself by folding brochures.

He urges people to pray, he pays attention to poor children and those in need. He tries to do well and trusts in God. People love him and when he gets older they are attracted to more than just his cheerful spirits. People are touched by Herman on a deeper level.


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First Communion

Herman Wijns first Communion

Acolyte

Herman Wijns acolyte

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A fatal fall

It is Saturday 24 May, the celebration of Our Lady of the Christians, a festivity much celebrated by Herman.In the morning he attends Mass, dedicated to Our Lady and enjoys it very much.

After school Herman puts on his Sunday clothes and walks with his mother to the butcher's. Together with the butcher's children he jumps on the roof of the henhouse and when he tries to dodge the dirty water they are spraying at him, he falls. His left leg is caught in glass which cuts through the tendon and artery of his knee.

Desperately, his mother takes him into his arms and runs to a nearby doctor. He isn't home. Now, she has to run much further. A German officer pulls a clamp out of the hem of his coat and ties off Herman' leg. to keep him from bleeding to death.

In hospital he undergoes surgery. He suffers a lot and has to remain in hospital overnight. When his parents visit him the following day he says: "Mum and dad, I love you both so much, and all people. Please, tell them. Thas is something I felt very strongly last night."

As the evening draws near, he develops a high fever and cold sweats. He is shaking. The surgeon is powerless. Herman says his Sunday prayers. Then he sits up, looks at something right above his little bed, first a bit anxious and then he holds out both arms and smiles widely. The nurse asks him: "Herman, don't you want to go home to mummy and daddy?" The child answers: "I did at first, sister, but now that I have seen Our Lady, I don't want to anymore. She is so beautiful."

The next day Herman is very peaceful. He is given the Holy Sacrament and dies in full trust of God.

It is 26 May 1941, half past eight at night.


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The funeral

Herman is dead, but his blood doesn't clot, his eyes keep opening and his hands slide next to his body. The third day after his death his body is brought home where it rests on a table turned into a bed of state.

The funeral takes place on Friday 30 May 1941. A splendour of flowers and garlands is delivered as a token of affection and love for the child. Incessantly people flock to the coffin to pay their last respects. The day of the funeral most shops in Merksem are closed.

There is chaos when the small coffin leaves the house. A crowd of people wants to touch the coffin with rosaries, handkerchiefs, prayer books, etc. The police gently produce order out of the chaos. Behind the hearse dozens of metres of garlands are spread in spite of the war! Thousands of people attend the service. Afterwards Herman is carried to his resting-place in the cemetery of Merksem.


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The father Jozef Wijns with his son

The father Jozef Wijns with his son Herman Wijns lying in state

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Afterwards

Flowers kept being delivered. The adoration grew and gradually people came to realize that Herman's little grave had become a place of pilgrimage. Many people received what they had invoked thanks to Herman's intermediation. A lot of people delivered votive offerings

Pretty soon the tomb appeared to be too small. The City Council had it removed. At the moment the burial ground is almost 100 square metres. A great many commemorative plagues and flowers decorate it. Pilgrims, even from abroad, come to the grave to implore Herman's intermediation. Still today, Herman's story touches the hearts of many people.


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tomb of Herman Wijns

tomb Herman Wijns

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