The stall of the Archdeacon of Switzerland in Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral in Brussels is dedicated to St Niklaus von Flüe. Bruder Klaus, as he is generally known, was born near Lucerne in 1417 and was a leading figure in the political life of his day. Like George Herbert, he gave all this up and retreated to the country to devote himself to a life of prayer and meditation. He became a hermit, living in a valley next to his home village of Flüeli-Ranft. His hermitage and chapel are still there. In fact, a second, larger, chapel had to be built to accommodate the numbers who came to hear him and to ask for his prayers.
Bruder Klaus is regarded as the patron saint of Switzerland and Flueli-Ranft remains a popular place of pilgrimage to this day. His feast day is 25 September and on the Saturday following Flüeli-Ranft was the destination for the annual outing of the Swiss branch of the Willibrord Society. The aim of the Society is to promote closer friendship between the Old Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Members of both churches gathered at the Upper Chapel for a Pilgrim Mass celebrated by the Archdeacon, the Ven. Peter M. Potter and accompanied by the sound of cow bells from the surrounding meadows. Fortunately the early morning mist had cleared and the pilgrims were able to enjoy a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon visiting the Lower Chapel, Bruder Klaus' birthplace and other sites connected with him. Back at the village they wwere greeted by the sound of alpenhorns – admittedly not in their honour but to welcome a bride arriving at the church.
Information from Ven Peter Potter, Archdeacon of Switzerland.
Photos (by Hector Davie of Berne)