The seven paintings that adorn the basilica are Theodoor Van Loon’s most famous works and the only pieces of his that can still be admired in their original location. Their monumental scenes depict the life of the Virgin Mary, their themes coinciding with the seven feast days celebrated at the court of Archdukes Albert and Isabella. Seven is also an important number in Marian devotion, as it harks back to the seven sorrows and the seven joys of Mary.
The town of Scherpenheuvel sprouted around the brand new domed Basilica of Our Lady in the early 17th century, in the middle of the Counter-Reformation. Indeed, the pilgrims’ church dedicated to the miraculous statue of Mary was literally built at the centre of the town. It was constructed to be seen, so no material was too precious for the financial and moral support of Archduke Albert VII of Austria and his wife Isabella of Spain! The church has been a basilica since 1922.