A statue at Tournai Cathedral wins 2022 Heritage Challenge


A statue of Mary at the Cathedral of Tournai has won the 2022 Heritage Challenge, organised by Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA).

The challenge was launched in 2021, when the burial chapel of painter Peter Paul Rubens (in the Antwerp church of St. James) took first place.

The challenge is an initiative hoping to restore at least ten fine examples of Belgian cultural heritage in the lead-up to Belgium’s 200th birthday in 2030. The goal is to celebrate this occasion in style, as the institute itself puts it.

Other contenders this year were the “Infanticide at Bethlehem” painting in Andenne (by the Bruges native Louis Finson), James Ensor’s ballet costumes, the casts of Constantin Meunier’s “Monument to Labour”, the pulpit of the Cathedral of Brussels, and a collection of puppets in traditional nuns’ clothing in Wetteren.

The statue of Mary won this year’s challenge by a landslide, receiving 4,633 votes out of nearly 15,000 – almost twice as many as Finson’s painting.

The victory allows for a year’s worth of help by KIK-IRPA for communications and fundraising.

Did you know that the Cathedral of Tournai is listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 2000, along with some of the houses by architect Victor Horta?