In 1444, Geertje Arends was on her way from Nijkerk to Amersfoort, where she was to become a nun at the Sint-Agnieten convent. She did not have many belongings, but she did have a clay figure of the Virgin Mary. Geertje felt it was ugly, however, and decided to get rid of it before arriving at the convent. She threw the small statue of Mary in the canal outside Amersfoort and entered the convent...
A few days later – it was wintertime, and almost Christmas – a maid saw the small statue lying in the water under a sheet of ice. The maid had been guided to that particular place by a vision that she had three times, telling her to go there. She brought the statue home, gave it a nice spot and lit a candle before it. The candle burned three times as long as a candle normally would. The maid was bursting to tell this story, so she went to confession, taking the statue with her. She left it behind with her confessor, who placed it in the church's Lady Chapel.
This statue subsequently drew thousands of pilgrims to Amersfoort, turning it into the most important pilgrimage site north of the great rivers. Over the centuries, numerous miracles were attributed to the statue. A few years after it was found, around 1460, the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Church was built in her honour. Several decades later, an explosion destroyed this church; the only thing to survive was the tower... Today, this tower defines the skyline of Amersfoort!
As well as a medieval pilgrimage site, Amersfoort also became one of the country's major beer-producing centres in the late Middle Ages.
Local brew house Brouwerji ‘t Mirakel has revived this time-honoured tradition, and now pairs the miracle and the beer of Amersfoort in a winning combination!