With more than fifteen hundred visitors, the Carmelites on the Burgstraat in Ghent look back on a successful Open Day, which was held on Saturday 25 June. “I was especially surprised by the enormous diversity of the people who came to visit,” said Father Paul De Bois, provincial superior of the Flemish Carmel. “There was also a great many young people; families with small children and groups of friends in their twenties and thirties. Their visit was usually not limited to a sprint through the monastery. They also enjoyed a drink and snack in the garden. That gave the day a festive atmosphere of meeting.”

Foto's: Karmel Gent


On September 13, a festive reception for the guides of Sacred Books | Secret Libraries. The guides are a very important link in the operation of this unique project. That deserved a glass and a pastry. It was a heartwarming meeting and mutual acquaintance! The community of the canons of the English Monastery was present, along with some Carmelites, whose hospitality we thoroughly enjoyed. Judge for yourself...

Sacred Books | Secret Libraries wants to be more than an organization: we want to bring people together, monks and visitors, guides and visitors, guides among themselves, all people with a heart for the religious heritage of Bruges. We want to build a community around this rich heritage, a little family with a heart for each other and for the cultural and religious value of monasteries, past and present — and who knows in the future.

PRESS RELEASE – ‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries’ – 20/02/2019

On 20/02/2019 in the English Convent in Bruges 'Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' was launched in the presence of Peter De Wilde, Administrator-General of Tourism Flanders, and Dirk De fauw, Mayor of Bruges.

‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' is a leverage project of Tourism Flanders around two inhabited monasteries in Bruges. The professional and sustainable tourist opening of the English Convent and the Priory of the Discalced Carmelites with the reception of visitors starts from the inhabitants and their spirituality, life choice and way of life.

Silence, authenticity and books will be central to the experience during the guided visits starting on 20/02/2020, three a day, four days a week. Guides lead the visitor to unique, hidden and secret places where silence and beauty prevail. In the heart of the monasteries, he becomes acquainted with the religious communities who, in the wake of a long tradition, lead a life of prayer and contemplation. The religious experience of time automatically leads to slowing down and deepening. Books and monastic libraries are a common thread in the course. An encounter with a religious rounds off any visit.

‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' is a pioneering project that takes a leading role in the debate on the meaning of religious heritage and on how to deal with religious heritage. ‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' assumes the responsibility to revalue and use religious sites in a thoughtful way, with respect for their individuality, their function, their meaning, their value – always in close consultation with the religious and administrators themselves, but also with policy makers, with academics and experts, with entrepreneurs and organizations and with committed and committed supporters.


Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister for Mobility, Public Works, Vlaamse Rand, Tourism and Animal WelfareBruges already has many assets, but the international public is always looking for even more experience. That is why I am committed to ambitious leverage projects that take the tourist experience to an even higher level. Through Tourism Flanders, I am investing 321,000 euros in opening up two beautiful monasteries. This way, visitors from home and abroad can get to know the art treasures of the Engels Convent and the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites.”

Dirk De fauw, mayor of Bruges“Without a forward-looking vision, there is a real danger that the religious communities can no longer survive and that their rich heritage disappears or becomes fragmented. It is therefore necessary to coordinate all information and expertise on religious heritage and to develop a vision and approach. A knowledge center can realize this under the supervision of the city council.”


The press conference for the launch took place on 20/02/2019 in the English Convent in Bruges

in the presence of Peter De Wilde, administrator-general of Tourism Flanders,

and Dirk De fauw, mayor of Bruges. Ships Franky Demon and aldermen Nico Blontrock were also present.

PRESS RELEASE – ‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries’ – 16/12/2019

In the Carmelite Church in Bruges is the logo of 'Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' presented by the designer, calligrapher and artist Brody Neuenschwander, and in the presence of the guides who will lead visitors through the English Covent and the Carmelite Priory.

“The quatrefoil (four-leaf clover) is a motif that was used very frequently in medieval architecture, in stained glass, in the illumination of books and in other art forms,” says Brody Neuenschwander. His design consists of four circles that overlap to form a lobed cross. This can refer to the crucifixion of Christ as well as to the four evangelists. But it can also be seen as a reference to the divine geometry that is the foundation of the universe. That is why the quatrefoil is a symbol of heaven as well as of the earth.” The style of the letters in the Sacred Books logo is based on a fusion of classical and early medieval calligraphic styles.” The ivy, also a common motif in medieval art, stands for eternal renewal”. Ivy is a plant that sprouts from the ground with unquenchable energy, thrives on old walls and stays green all year round…”


'Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' is a leverage project of Tourism Flanders and will open the English Covent and the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites to visitors on 20/02/2020.

Seventy motivated candidate guides accepted the invitation to participate in a training that focused on the specificity of the project: on the one hand the spirituality of the residents, on the other the books and the monastic libraries. The preparation of the guides will continue in the coming period and will also pay attention to accessibility and family-friendliness.


From 20/02/2020, 'Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' makes accessible what has remained hidden and secret until now. The guided visits will take place in both monasteries on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays – each time at 10 am, 2 pm and 3 pm. A visit, led by a guide, lasts one hour and ends in the morning with a meeting with a religious. Reservations are possible from 20/01/2020.

‘Sacred Books | Secret Libraries' is a pioneering project that takes a leading role in the debate on the meaning of religious heritage and on how to deal with religious heritage.