Breda Nassaustad

The Altar of Niervaart

On June 24, 1300, a farmer named Jan Bautoen was hoeing a plot of land near the village of Niervaart. As he lifted a clod of earth, he found a completely intact Host, which he immediately gave to the pastor of the village of Niervaart. The Host was placed in a precious monstrance, and despite the passage of time, one could see that the bread remained intact. News quickly spread among the people, who began to venerate the Sacred Host. In 1449 the Holy Eucharist was moved, with the agreement of the Bishop of Luik, to the Church of Our Lady of Breda.

Thanks to this Breda became a place of pilgrimage with an annual festival on the 24th of June. The alter pieces tells the story of the Host in a style which we might now think of as a graphic story. After the iconoclastic fury (a period of the Reformation when Catholic influence was purged), veneration of the host and the festival stopped and, the altar screen itself was badly damaged. From the end of the 19th century worship of the sacrament of Niervaart has again grown in importance.