by Peer Boselie, Sittard-Geleen and regional archives
The Jardin d’Isabelle (French for ‘Garden of Isabelle’) is called after the unreachable love of Charles Beltjens, Isabelle de Borman. Charles Beltjens (1832-1890) was a Dutch poet. He wrote his poems in French as he unfolded his poetic wings in France. He won important literature awards in Belgium and France and was in contact with famous French poets such as Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire and Sully Prudhomme, the first Nobel Prize winner in literature.
The rich doctor de Borman considered him a gipsy and unsuitable for his daughter. The talented poet was undervalued by his fellow citizens. He felt as if his creative spirit was held hostage. In the Netherlands, Beltjens’ poems were impopular and hardly read.
Everybody walks his or her path of life. Beltjens did not follow the normal scope, which led to the scorn of his fellow citizens. The labyrinth in this garden can be used to reflect on the life path that you take. Will you stay in normal scope or will you take your own carefully considered route? Do you dare to take your own course? Do you give space to others to find their own ways? The labyrinth is a full scale realization of the Chartres labyrinth and can be used as a mini-pilgrimage.
Let’s continue our walk, through the church path, to the previous monastery garden of the Ursulines. Overthere, at the city wall, high up lived the Ursuline Sisters. They lived together with the girls whom they taught. They maintained their herbs and vegetable gardens just outside the citywall in the former fields of fire. In later times, here they kept their flower beds, their fruit trees and graveyard. From these times we can still find the ‘berceau’. A romantic pear lane through which one can stroll and ponder, just like the Sisters did while contemplating their job, their task, their lifes with the girls.
Just for a short while, we walk along with them with the images in mind of former times. At the end of the pear lane a monument is located that reminds of the 160 Jewish people from Sittard and its surroundings, who were snatched away from their hometown during the Second World War. They never returned. Follow the path, choose your own way or have a seat on a garden bench.Take time to reflect on what has happened or what is still bound to happen. Reflect on the matter that is important for you…