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Heart of Belgian City Mayor Found Hidden in Public Fountain

Ann Moises

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  • The heart of Pierre David, Verviers’ first mayor was found within the ornate fountain at Place Verte.
  • Workers found the organ, which was inside a small, zinc casket during the fountain’s renovation in August.
  • The casket along with documents from the city’s archives are on exhibit at the Verviers Fine Arts Museum until September 20.

On August 20, workers renovating Fontaine David in Verviers, east of Liége in Belgium found the entombed heart of the city’s first-ever ‘bourgmestre’ or mayor.

Inadvertently confirming a century-old Waloon urban legend, they recovered a rusted, metal coffin with these words inscribed on it:

“The heart of Pierre David was solemnly placed in the monument on 25 June 1883.”
According Maxime Degey, Verviers Alderman for Public Works, they found the casket in the upper part of the fountain.
“…right near the bust of Pierre David, behind a stone which we had removed during the fountain’s renovation,” he said.

In an article published by Euronews, we read that officials decided not to open the box ‘out of respect for the deceased and his family.’

Pierre David became Verviers’ first mayor in 1800 and served until 1808 when France ruled Belgium. In 1802, he founded the first firefighter corps– a rare innovation at that time, BBC reported.

He ruled as mayor again after the Belgian Revolution of 1830, and brought peace back to the heavily-damaged city.

Legend says that the city officials decided to take his heart–with consent from his family–when he died in 1839. They kept it in the town hall while authorities collected funds to build him a monument. Decades passed before they were able to collect enough money for it.

The eponymous monument was finished in 1883. Officials finally inaugurated Fontaine David and placed the beloved mayor’s heart within it.
The casket, along with documents from the city’s archives and the museum’s collection are on exhibit at Verviers Fine Arts Museum until September 20.

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