The Heart of a 19th-Century Mayor Was Discovered in a Fountain

Andrei Tapalaga

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The fountain in the center of Verviers was raised in the honor of Pierre David 1883Verviers

We all love urban legends because of the mystery hidden behind them. Although we know what most urban legends remain just legends created by people who want attention, there is one urban legend from 140 years ago that was discovered to be true by accident. 

The Urban Legend around Verviers 

The town Verviers located in Belgium is a town that has evolved a lot since Belgium got its independence. The first important steps were taken by the first Belgium mayor of the town named Pierre David. Born in 1771, David always loved Verviers despite living a harsh childhood due to the French (1794–1814) and Dutch (1815–1830) occupation of his town. 

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Painting of Pierre DavidPublic Domain

Throughout most of his life, he saw the town being torn apart due to the political conflicts between the Dutch and the French. He was also a political advocate, fighting for Belgium’s independence. Due to all of these efforts, he was appointed to become the mayor of the town in 1830 and actually the first Mayor in Belgium as the country claimed independence that same year. 

David died in 1839 at the age of 68 from natural causes. The city officers were planning to build a monument in order to honor his 9 years of service as a Mayor of the town. They thought of a nice fountain, but it had to be more special. This is where the urban legend that circulated since then comes in. 

The officers thought to ask David’s family for approval in order to remove his heart and place it into the monument that would be built in his honor. As the urban legend goes the family accepted and the heart was placed into the fountain in 1883. For all those years the hearth had been preserved in alcohol

Something really interesting that made people think this is more than just an urban legend is what is written on David’s casked. On the casked, it is written that the Mayor’s heart can be found inside the fountain located in the center of the city which was placed there in 1883. 

Not an Urban Legend anymore

On the 20th of August this year, some construction workers have been appointed to renovate the fountain and make it work once again. During the renovation process, the workers found a small zinc casket that seemed to not be part of the fountain. The casket even had its own pocket made for the exact size within the fountain. 

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The casket tucked away in this hollowed-out stoneVerviers

Upon the inspection of specialists from the Verviers Museum of Fine Arts, they confirmed that this was in fact the heart of Mayor Pierre David just as the urban legend said. Inside the metal casked there was a jar that contained his heart in perfect condition. 

The residents of Verviers never actually believed the legend, until now. Since its discovery, the heart has been placed as part of a special exhibition representing the history of Pierre David. This exhibition including the heart can be seen at the Verviers Museum of Fine Arts

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