Herman Wijns:  After his death


The funeral

Herman is dead, but his blood doesn't coagulate, which causes his body to remain supple. Despite repeated attempts, it appears to be impossible to close his eyes and to place his hands in a praying position. Time after time, his eyes open themselves again and his hands fall back beside his body.

Puzzled by this unnatural phenomenon, the doctors take his body back to the operating table for investigation. They determine clinical death, but the little body shows no signs of it. Therefore, an authorization for a burial can not be given. At the insistence of the patients, the body can remain in the ward for 2 more days.

The third day after his decease, the body is brought home, where it rests upon a table converted to a bed of state. Every day, the body is examined by the doctors. After a renewed investigation, permission for a burial is given. It is granted on Friday, May 30th, 1941.

Herman's parents receive a large number of flowers and garlands, as a sign of love and affection for the child. Without cessation, people arrive to pay their last respects. The day of the funeral, most shops in Merksem close their doors.

When the coffin is brought out, chaos erupts. A large number of people want to touch the coffin with rosaries, handkerchiefs, prayer-books, and the like. The police restores order in a kind and gentle way. Behind the hearse, a long queue with people carrying garlands follows. Josef Wijns, Herman's father, is accompanied by a large number of quiet men. As the procession reaches the church, over 1000 women and children have already gathered inside the church. After the service, Herman is carried to his last resting place at the Merksem cemetery.

Josef Wijns next to his laid out son

Josef Wijns next to his laid out son

masses of flowers

masses of flowers follow the hearse

more photographs



To this day

Flowers were continuously added. The worship grew, and slowly people became convinced that the grave had become a place of mercy. Many people's wishes had been fulfilled by the intercession of Herman. Exvoto's Exvoto's were added to his grave, and soon, his gravesite became too small. The municipality decided to relocate it. Currently, the gravesite is nearly 100 square meters. Many "thank you plaques" and flowers adorn the site. Many pilgrims, even from abroad, visit the grave to ask for his intercession.

Herman's parents received thousands of letters from all over the world. Josef Wijns answered every single one of them. Up to this day, Herman Wijns' story appears to move a lot of people.

Herman Wijns' grave

Herman Wijns' grave

more photographs