The New Bishop and Orval Beer

Ghent Guide Anna — Orval beer and the new bishop of Ghent

I bet today ‘Orval’ Trappist beer will flow like water in Ghent, and it will be gushing from Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. That’s because today at 3 p.m. the new bishop of Ghent will be ordained there. Lode van Hecke from the monastery where the famous Orval is brewed will become the first Trappist monk in the history of Belgium to become a bishop.

Those who love Belgian beer, are probably familiar with the logo with a fish holding a ring in its mouth. A legend has it that in the 12th century Matilda of Tuscany dropped her ring in the river, and a moment later, it was returned to her by some particularly helpful trout. Without further ado, thankful Matilda founded on this spot the Orval abbey. Whether the trout appreciated Matilda’s deed, is doubtful.

Anyway, the Trappists (part of the Order of Cistercians) brew great beers in Orval. I don’t know if it worked in Lode Van Hecke’s favour, when the Pope was deciding on whom to appoint as the bishop of one of the largest Belgian dioceses. In any case, last November Lode Van Hecke had to leave his favourite monastery and move to Ghent to meet his future flock.

Today at 3 p.m., the sixty-nine-year-old Lode will be ordained bishop, and our seventy-eight-year-old beloved Luke Van Looy will be able to retire to enjoy a well-deserved rest. If you never had a chance to see the ordination ceremony, you can observe it today in Ghent.

The cathedral opens its doors starting from 2 p.m., but most of the seats inside are already reserved for the special guests. For example, the front row pews will be occupied by Trappist monks from the Orval Abbey. If there isn’t enough room in the cathedral for you, you can watch the ceremony from the nearby St Bavo’s School in Lange Boomgaardstraat. In its assembly hall (so-called Groenzaal), there is a TV screen and the events in the Cathedral will be broadcast live. After the ordination, there will be a reception in the building right next to the cathedral called Sint-Baafshuis, where beer will be served with beer. I needn’t disclose what kind of beer it will be, need I?

Ghent Guide Anna — Orval beer and the new bishop of Ghent

The bishop’s career of Monsignor Van Hecke didn’t start without a mishap. As soon as the Pope announced the new bishop, Wikipedia published the news, only … its editors mixed up priests! According to Wikipedia, the new bishop was the honorary Joris De Jonge. The information appeared on Wikipedia at 8:48 a.m. and was corrected only by noon, so poor De Jonge had to answer calls and messages all morning telling everyone it was a mistake. Wikipedia isn’t always the most reliable source of information…

Hopefully, it will be the only glitch during Van Hecke’s bishopric career 😊.

I took the picture at St Bavo’s Cathedral yesterday during the general rehearsal for today’s big event. Those cheerful Smurfs on stage are the choir of St. Luke’s Church, London. In Chelsea, everybody seems to be doing a great job, not only football players: the singer’s voices were divine! Looks like the new bishop has great musical taste!