maandag 17 oktober 2016
Saint Harlindis and Relindis
By Anja Neskens and Katrien Houbey
In 721, the Frankish nobleman Adelhard founded a convent for his daughters Harlindis and Relindis in Aldeneik. These holey sisters played an important role in spreading Christianity in the 8th century. During the second wave of Christianisation, Benedictine missionaries from England and Ireland spread the word of God on the European Mainland. In Aldeneik Saint Willibrord himself and Saint Boniface consecrated Harlindis and Relindis and probably gave them the Codex Eyckensis to educate the other sisters.
During the building process of the second church in 870 by abbess Ava, first indications of a worship cult appeared. The Carolingian church was built in stone and consecrated by the bishop of Liège, Franco. On this occasion the bones of Saint Harlindis and Relindis were unearthed and exposed in the church. From thad moment on, other objects, like the Codex Eyckensis and the Anglo-Saxon textiles were shown to the greater public as well.
An interesting question: Did they unearth the right bones in the 9th century? Are the remains really from the holey sisters? The archaeological research of 2008 in the Saint Anna Church gives possibilities to investigate this scientific question. During the archaeological investigation no remains were found of the Merovingian church, built in 721. Nevertheless two bureals in full ground were found. This kind of burial is very different from the more recent burials. Next to this grave is a second potential grave with a choir robe pin from the 8th century. Radiocarbon dating will prove if these graves date from the 8th century.
In the 9th century the cult started to spread relics from Saint Harlindis and Relindis. In the church treasures from Saint Catherine in Maaseik, after the translation of the church treasures in 1571 from Aldeneik to Maaseik up until now, there are still a few relics left. The remains out of the main graves, unearthed in the 9th century, were kept in a big iron chest until the 17th century. After the inventory of 1647 the bones were moved into two new wooden chests, commissioned by De Borman-Puytlinck and the brothers Croll from Wurfeld. The chests were opened in 1661, 1794, 1902 en 1930 to take parts of the remains and create relics for the church of Ordingen, the church of Ellikom, the cathedral of Liège and the house of Bethany.
On the 24th of August 2016 the chests and several other relics were reopened and investigated: antropological research, textile research, radiocarbon research, etc. under supervision of Marc Vanstrydonck from the Royal institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels.
The results of the research of the human burials in the Saint Anna Church in Aldeneik and the results of the scientific research of the relics chests of Harlindis and Relindis will be presented on the congress 'Relics @ the Lab" on the 27th and 28th of October in Brussels. Find the program on: http://org.kikirpa.be/relicsatthelab/.