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Tremelo (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
Keywords: tremelo | fleurs-de-lis: 3 (red) | damian (father) | rotselaar |
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[Flag of Tremelo]

Municipal flag of Tremelo - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 9 January 2008

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Presentation of Tremelo

The municipality of Tremelo (13,904 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,157 ha) is located east-north-east of Brussels. The municipality of Tremelo is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Tremelo and Baal.

Tremelo was named after a wood (loo) located near (ter) something disputed. Carnoy writes that the wood of Emelo was mentioned for the first time in 1125, ter eme meaning "near a pasture". Mansion believes that eme might have been the shortened form of the girl's name Amma. The local school teacher J. Van Leemputten has proposed a third etymology, based on the brook Raam that waters the hamlet of Bollo, the two names put together forming Ter Ramelo, later shortened to Tremelo.
Tremelo remained dependent of Werchter (incorporated into Rotselaar in 1976) until 1783, as a parish, and until 1837, as a hamlet. In the early Middle Ages, Werchter belonged to the Counts of Aarschot and to the Berthout family. In the XIIth century, the domain was incorporated to the Duchy of Brabant, and transferred in the XIIIth century to the lords of Rotselaar.
Simon Wouters was born on 7 March 1734 in a farm located in the hamlet of Veldonk. In 1778, he was appointed Abbot of Park (Heverlee), an abbey where he had taken the coat in 1755. At that time, there were only three chapels in Tremelo and the villagers had to go to Werchter for the mass, something not easy in winter. They asked Wouters to help them in getting a parish church and eventually sued the abbey of Park. Wouters was ordered by the court to build the church, which started in 1781 and was completed two years later.
Tremelo became an independent municipality on 12 May 1837, after years of discussions and several court trials. The Germans burned more than 200 houses in the village during the First World War.

Baal was mentioned for the first time in 1320, as Bael, probably coming from the Germanic word bal, "a bunch of sticks". According to C. Wellens, the village was, therefore, originally built in a wood where firewood was picked up. J. Van Leemputten, however, believes that Ball comes from palen ("sticks"), referring to the old border sticks of the domain of Aarschot. The village wa mentioned in 1359 as Barle and listed on Charles de Croÿ's Album (c. 1598) as Baerle, referring to a wood (-lo) in bare ground (barre).
Once a hamlet where the lords of Aarschot picked up wood and peat, Baal seceded from Aarschot in 1794.

Jozef De Veuster (1840-1889, better known as Father Damian (Pater Damiaan), was born in a farm of Ninde, a hamlet of Tremelo. In 1863, Damian's brother should have been sent as a missionary to Hawai, but had to cancel his mission because of typhus; Damian, still a probationer, replaced his brother and landed in Hawai after a 148-day journey. In 1873, Damian was made aware of the colony of Molokai, where lepers lived in complete isolation, and decided to join the colony. For the rest of his life, while completely aware of the risk of contamination, Damian stayed in Molokai where he was priest, teacher, policeman, nurse, undertaker and farmer. In 1886, he wrote famous letters to the government of Honolulu, requiring practical support for the colony, stating that "no human being should be sentenced to death" (the isolated lepers were not expecting to do anything but waiting for death). Damian's letters were widely published and raised awareness and support from all over the world. Contaminated by leprosy, Damian died among his friends and asked to be buried among them. In a tribute to Damian, Mahatma Gandhi said in 1945: "It is worth to consider such an heroic behaviour". On 4 June 1995, Father Damian was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
The NGO Fondation Damien was founded in 1964 to fight against leper and tuberculosis. Its main scientific advizer was Dr. Frans Hemerijckx (1902-1969), from Ninove, the inventor of the "clinics under the trees", an itinerary system of prevention and healing, basically made of a tent hung under trees and widely adopted all over the world.
On 1 December 2005, Father Damian was elected "The Greatest Belgian ever" by the viewers of the Dutch-speaking TV channel VRT. A few weeks later, the viewers of the French-speaking RTBF ranked him third.


Ivan Sache, 8 December 2007

Municipal flag of Tremelo

The municipal flag of Tremelo is white with a red diamond charged with the greater municipal arms.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 19 February 1991, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 1 October 1991 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 4 January 1995.
The colours of the flag are taken from the municipal arms.

The arms of Tremelo, as shown on the municipal website, shows Father Damian standing behind a shield "Argent three fleurs-de-lis couped gules". The shield represents the arms of the lords of Rotselaar.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 8 December 2007