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Lier (Municipality, Province of Antwerp, Belgium)


Last modified: 2008-02-23 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Lier]

Municipal flag of Lier - Image by Jarig Bakker, 1 October 2001

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Presentation of Lier

The municipality of Lier (in French, Lierre; 33,259 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 4,970 ha) is located 20 km south-east of Antwerp, on the confluency of the rivers Grote and Kleine Nete. The municipality of Lier is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Lier and Koningshooikt.

Lier, according to the local tradition, was founded by Gummarus (in French, Gommaire; d. 714, canonized in 754), the town's patron saint, celebrated on 11 October (a French dictum says "If St. Gummarus day arrives with dry weather, the winter shall be wet from his beginning"). Gummarus was a knight at the court of Pépin le Bref. He is invoked against the fractures (in Dutch, beenbroken) since he rebuilt a broken tree with his belt. He is also invoked against adultery (echtbroken) since he was very unfortunated with his wife Grimmara. She was so cruel with him and the servants that Gummarus split and entered a convent, where he met St. Rumboldus of Mechelen. They built together a chapel in Lier, which was replaced in 1337 by the St. Gummarus church, considered as the pearl of the Brabantian Gothic style. The church is still the place of a pilgrimage on the next Sunday after the 10 of October, with a procession and the traditional laying (bandoplegging) of St. Gummarus' belt onto the pilgrims' shoulders.
The St. Gommarus church keeps the oldest known copy of the Turin Holy Shroud, dated 1516. The copy is traditionally attributed to two famous painters of Maximilian I's court, Albrecht Dürer and Bernard van Orley, but there are serious objections against these attributions, the main being the poor quality of the execution of the painting.
On 20 October 1496, the marriage of Joanna of Castile (aka Joanna the Mad, 1479-1555), the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, with Philip the Handsome (Philip I of Castile, 1478-1506), the son of Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy, was celebrated in Lier. The marriage was part of a family alliance between the Habsburgs and the Trastámara against the increasing power of the Kings of France, starting two centuries of Spanish rule in the Low Countries. They had six children, among which the Holy Roman Emperors Charles V (1500-1558) and Ferdinand I (1503-1564). Five hundred years later, the marriage was commemorated by flying the Spanish and Austrian flags, both undefaced, all over the town of Lier.

Lier is the birth (and death) town of the writer Felix Timmerman (1886-1947), whose main novel, Pallieter, was published in 1916. The eponymic character is considered today as a symbol of the Flemish people, even if the author had not imagined him so, and pallieter is used in Dutch as a synonym of "day-to-day living man". In the novel, Pallieter lives in Lier in the Reynaert house with his house-keeper Charlotte, his dog Loebas, his horse Beiaard and other animals. A statue of Pallieter was erected nearby. The novel was translated in 40 languages, adapted into a movie in 1976 by Roland Verhavert and into a musical for the Timmermans' Year in 1997.
Lier is the birth town of the economist and politician Gaston Eyskens (1905-1988), who ran six Belgian governments between 1949 and 1973; he had to manage the Royal controversy in 1950, which eventually led to Leopold III's abdication the next year; the School War in 1958, solved by the School Pact; the independence of Congo in 1960; and the split of the University of Leuven in 1970. Adopted the same year, his consitutional reform was the first step to the current status of Belgium.
However, the most famous child of Lier is probably the footballer Jan Ceulemans (b. 1957) aka the Caje. During his career, he played for only two clubs, the local Lierse SK (1964-1978) and Club Bruges (1978-1992; national champion, 1980, 1988, 1990; national cup winner, 1986, 1991). Ceulemans still holds the record of matches played (96; 23 goals) with the national team, the Red Devils. In 1992, he started a new career as coach, winning the national cup with KVC Westerlo in 2001. The football club Lierse SK (Koninklijke Lierse Sportkring since 1982), founded in 1906 as the Liersche Sportkring, won four national championships (1932, 1942, 1960, 1997) and two national cups (1969, 1999).


Ivan Sache & Jan Mertens, 27 August 2007

Muniicpal flag of Lier

The municipal flag of Lier is horizontally divided white-red, seven stripes.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 22 February 1988, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 13 December 1988 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The flag is directly derived from the municipal coat of arms, the red chevrons being replaced by horizontal stripes.

The Met Felix Timmermans door Lier website shows a picture of the municipal seal used around 1250. The seal shows two lions rampants, the second one (on the seal's right half) holding a rectangular banner with three chevrons; the staff of the banner is placed in the middle of the seal.

Pascal Vagnat, Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 27 August 2007