June 7, 2022

The Netherlands - What love can do, in Leiden

 A bit of a back story. I follow on Instagram a Romanian blogger, Diana Cosmin @finesocietycurator which you should follow, because I don't get why she doesn't have a lot more followers giving the content she is creating. I digress, so Diana has done some studies in Leiden and she talks about the place so lovingly and as it happens to be one of my favourite places in the Netherlands, I pay attention. She posts about the books she is reading or finding in bookstores, some of them with dogs, and when she posted about this particular "sculpture" on a church wall, I saved the info.

A weekend back, in Leiden, we were walking the streets, I forgot all about the sculpture when we happened to pass right by it. Of course I took a bunch of photos and I will tell you its story. 

The sculpture, sitting on the walls of a Franciscan church in Haarlemmerstrat, is depicting the tale of the Wolf of Gubbio. Turns out that this wolf was terrorising the people of Gubbio, Italy, eating then and their cattle. No weapon could kill it, no dogs could hunt it. When the city was more or less under siege by the wolf, because no one was daring to go outside the city walls, they called Saint Francis of Assisi for help. He went to the wolf, told him it is a sin to kill people (the image of God) and made the cross sign. He told the beast that it was hunger that made him do what he did, and made peace with it proposing a truce, the people of Gubbio would feed the wolf and in its turn he will stop eating them. The wolf agreed to the truce by putting his paw on the Saint's hand. 

The citizens of Gubbio honoured their part of the deal and the wolf lived among them for two years. When he died, they buried it as a sign of the power of God and later build a church on the same place.

Although a tale, it has a bit of a truth in it, as according to Wiki, when they renovated the church in Gubbio, in 1872, they found a skeleton of a large wolf under a slate. 

Knowing that some of the dog breeds are descendants of wolfs, could we go even further and assume it is one of the tales of domesticating the beast? Don't know, but I found it on a church wall in Leiden and as it happened I was walking Luna at the time and seemed only fit to take a picture. Also, you can see how big the sculpture slate is, compared to my 1,70 m.

The text on the slab is "Wat liefde vermag" which translates to "What love can do" as Saint Francis of Assisi managed to tame the beast only using the power of love. The slab was made to celebrate 500 years of Franciscans in Leiden, that is why you can see 1445 and 1945 on it.

This is the church, it is on a busy street in Leiden with a lot of shops and it's easy to miss. 

If you made it this far, a big thank you! I hope you found the article interesting and maybe you keep an eye open for it on your next trip to Leiden. Maybe you can go inside the church, which I wanted to do, but it was closed. If you feel like writing a line or two, you can find me on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

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