Belgian city finds heart of ex-mayor underneath a fountain
VERVIERS (BELGIUM) – Finally, the urban myth has turned out to be true. Residents of the eastern Belgian city of Verviers grew up hearing the ‘myth’ of the heart of a former mayor lying interred under a fountain. It turned out to be true when workers retrieved a small metal box containing the heart lying in ethanol from beneath the fountain last month as part of a renovation work.
The heart of Pierre David lying buried beneath the city’s ornate fountain is mentioned in civic documents, but no one really believed it until it was found, said Verviers city councillor Maxime Degey.
“Today the legend is no longer a legend. It’s a reality.”
David was the city’s first mayor when Belgium gained independence and he died while still in office in 1839 after falling from a building.
Civic authorities built a fountain in his honour and with the permission of his family placed his heart under a stone in the monument.
The reliquary is on display at the Verviers Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics and it will be returned to the fountain in the city’s Place Verte after the renovation is over.
“I do not know of any other example of a mayor whose heart has been preserved in a monument … in the middle of his town. That’s unique,” said Nathalie Weerts, the museum’s deputy curator.
He first served as mayor of Verviers from 1800-1808 when the country was under French rule. During his second stint in office in 1830, Belgium gained independence.
He was instrumental in establishing the city’s first fire brigade and allowing the public to watch city council debates.