Builder Finds Message From 1941 In Belgium Church

Have you ever discovered anything hidden for years? Here's another incredible story about discovering remnants from the past. What's more interesting about this one is that what was discovered was a message left hidden for future generations to find. The message was astonishing and heartbreaking at the same time. Here's how the story goes.

Image Credits: Instagram/stad_antwerpen


Imagine being an unsuspecting civilian, going about your day and doing your work, and then stumbling upon a secret message left hidden for over 70 years. This rare story of finding words written and dedicated to the future will have you gasping at the thought of the conditions the people who wrote the message had to live through. But first, the setting of our story.

Image Credits: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema/For Illustrative Purpose


It all starts with a church. St. James' Church in Antwerp, Belgium is an old and historical church. The church has been standing on the same grounds since 1656. Like many medieval churches, St. James' Church is a monumental place of worship, that sports a gothic architectural design. Here's why it's such a historic place.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Lieven Smits (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Despite its completion in the 1650s, the site where the church is on has been a place of worship since as early as the mid-1400s. Before the church stood a chapel, but in 1476 the chapel became a parish church because of the growing community surrounding it. Subsequently, plans for making the church bigger came into play. Eventually, it would turn into the large, gothic church it is today. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Markus Gombocz/For Illustrative Purpose


The church is historic for many reasons. Renown artists from Belgium's history have contributed greatly to the church. For starters, the church's organs were made by several famous artists from Europe's history.  The Choir organ was built by J.B. Forceville in 1727, is also original. The hew grand organ was built in 1884 by Anneesens. As time went on, the church had to improve too.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Michiel van der Voort (I) (Public Domain)


As Antwerp started growing into a sprawling metropolis, the chapel was upgraded to a parish. This also meant that more and more of the city's prominent families became its parishioners. This also turned the church into a favored burial site for said prominent families who ended up erecting beautifully sculpted burial chapels in the church. 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Tuân Nguyễn Minh/For Illustrative purpose


There are more than 1300 graves inside the church. Most of these belong to the noble families that chose the church as their parish. Today, some of these gravesites have become tourist attractions because they were sculpted by renowned artists of their era. A famous attraction is the grave of Francisco Marcos de Velasco made by Pieter Scheemaeckers. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Pieter Scheemaeckers I (Public Domain)


The church is also famously known as the final resting place of the artist, Peter Paul Rubens, who also comes from the noble Rubens family that has called the church their final resting place as well. The painting above Peter Paul Rubens' grave is one that he made himself. For all its beauty, the church has seen some dark days as well.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD (CC BY-SA 3.0)


In the 1700s, during the days of the French revolution, the church was almost sacked and plundered by revolutionaries invading the city of Antwerp. It is said that a priest pledged fealty to the invaders and in return they allowed him to chose one church to save from being pillaged. It was St. James'. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Carolus (CC BY 4.0)


To put it lightly, St. James' Church is a six hundred-year-old church that needs some tender love and care. That's how this story begins. Currently, the church is undergoing structural restoration and updates to keep the historic building in place. It was during these restorations that a builder working to keep the church alive found something he wasn't expecting to.

Image Credits: Instagram/stad_antwerpen


The said builder was unsuspectingly going about his day, working on the ceiling of the historic church. Little did he know that his day would completely change when he discovered a matchbox placed inside one of the intricately designed ornaments hanging from the very high ceiling. Here's what he did with what he found.

Image Credits: Instagram/stad_antwerpen


It's a great thing that his working had a curious mind. One would expect most people to see an old matchbox and would probably think nothing of it and throw it away immediately. Not this worker. Instead, he let his curiosity get the best of him and decided to settle down and take a peek at what may be lying inside this matchbox. He was not disappointed. 

Image Credits: Instagram/stad_antwerpen


What the worker found inside this old, dusty matchbox was paper! Neatly folded into place, and the paper even had writing on it! It was a note. Upon opening the note, the worker realized that the note gave insight into how poor the living conditions were for the people who previously worked on restoring the church all the way back in 1941. 

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Sixtus (CC BY-SA 3.0)


The note was dated July 21, 1941. Astonishing! The note and the matchbox had stayed safely tucked into the ceiling ornament for seventy-nine years! If you know your history right, 1941 was not a great time to be in Europe. As a matter of fact, Europe was a war zone. So this may explain what the note said. The note also got a lot of publicity.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Hardy, Bert No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit - Imperial War Museum collection (Public Domain)


The worker was blown away by what he had discovered, and naturally, had to share his discovery with his co-workers and superiors. The news of the discovery was so widespread that the City of Antwerp even decided to share it on their official social media.

Image Credits: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

On their Instagram account, they shared: "Unbelievable. This workman found a note from 1941 in St. James' Church with a catchy message." 

Image Credits: Unsplash/Austin Distel

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