Herman Wijns:  Death


The day is Saturday, May 24th, feast of Our Lady Help of Christians (much revered by Herman). At noon, he goes to Mass, which is dedicated to Our Lady. He enjoys it very much.

When he arrives from school that evening, he looks dirty. His jacket is undone and underneath it, he hides something. Potato peels, pieces of straw, and mud fall from underneath him, and he has an unpleasant smell. He's all upset.

He had passed a garbage can, in which someone had dumped an old crucifix. He tried to walk by it, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. After he had tried it a couple of times, he heard a voice call out: "But, Herman, why are you ashamed of Me?"

At that point, Herman, who valued neatness so much, took the crucifix out of the garbage can, and ran home with it. He thoroughly cleans it, and after long insistence with his father, he's allowed to hang it on his bedroom wall, as a form of rehabilitation.

The rehabilitated cross

The rehabilitated cross

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A fatal fall

Herman puts on his Sunday clothes and accompanies her to the butcher. Together with the butcher's children, he goes to see their little chickens. When he sees the neighbor's son Willy, a good friend of his, he jumps on top of the chicken shack to talk to him.

The butcher's children try to push Herman off the shack, but he defends himself. They take a torn soccer ball, fill it up with water from the gutter, and they spray it on Herman. He shouts: "Look out" I'm wearing my Sunday clothes!", but this only made matters worse.

He jumps from left to right to evade the mud, until he retreats too much and falls from the shack. His left leg is pierced by a jagged piece of glass. He cries in pain and holds his knee. The glass has severed his knee's tendon and artery. Blood is gushing from the wound.

Although the streets are filled with people, nobody comes to the rescue. At the Astorio movie theatre, there's a long line of people. A German officer makes his way through the crowd. From the seam of his cloak, he pulls out a tourniquet, which he applies to Herman's knee, to stop him from bleeding to death. He beckons a passing cyclist and asks him to place the child on his bike and to take him to the doctor. The officer walks along for a while.

Herman's church


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At the hospital

The doctor brings the severely weakened Herman and his mother too the hospital, where he's operated. He suffers a great deal of pain and has to stay in the hospital that night.

When his parents visit him the next day, he says: "Mom and dad, I love you and all the people so very much, will you tell them? I deeply realized this during the night." A while after that, he says: "Mother, do the Brothers know I'm here?" "Don't worry about that, my dear, I'll let the Brothers know you'll be here for a couple of days." He replies: "Mother, just tell the Brothers I will never return."

In the course of the day, the doctors decide to operate him a second time. As the evening falls, his fever worsens. He suffers from cold sweat and his body starts to shiver. The surgeon who's consulted is astounded by this unexpected situation. Herman mutters and the nurses think he's delirious, but the priest who's listening attentively to his words, hears him reciting the prayers of the Sunday Mass. Among these: "… the Lord is my light and my salvation, who shall I fear…"

Suddenly, Herman sits up, his gaze fixed at a point above his bed. He's a bit frightened at first, but then, he reaches out with his arms and his face shows a cheerful smile. The nurse asks him: "Herman, wouldn't you rather go home with your mother and father?" To which he replies: "At first I felt that way, but no more. Now that I've seen Our Lady… she's so beautiful!".

In the morning, Herman is very calm. The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is administered to him. The curate holds Herman's head and says: "Herman, don't be afraid, you are going straight to our Holy Lord!" Herman opens his eyes and responds: "In saecula saeculorum,…" and, almost inaudibly: "Amen." His head drops to the right and his fervent soul rises to heaven.

This takes place on May 26th, 1941 at 7.30 PM.