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Wachtebeke (Municipality, Province of East Flanders, Belgium)

Last modified: 2008-04-26 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Wachtebeke

The municipality of Wachtebeke (6,875 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 3,453 ha) is located in the region of Waasland, on the border with the Netherlands, 30 km north of Ghent. The border hamlet of Overslag (663 inh.) is divided into a Belgian part and a Dutch part (municipality of Terneuzen).

Wachtebeke was mentioned for the first time in 1198, as Wagtebeke, as part of a donation made by Count of Flanders Philip of Alsace to the St. Peter abbey in Ghent. The name of the village might come from the Germanic words wahwo, "a post", and baki, "a brook" (in Dutch, beek), and might therefore mean "a watched brook". Another possible etymology relies on waad, "a ford", and might explain the local name of the village, Wabeke. A third etymology relies on the name of a German lord, Wachteld.
Around 1200, most of the village was owned by the St. Bavo and St. Peter abbeys in Ghent, the Marquette abbey in Lille (France) and the abbey of Ninove. The main activity was peat extraction, which increased after the digging of the Langelede Canal, which allowed shipping of peat to Ghent via the Moer Canal.
A rural municipality until the 1960s, Wachtebeke has evolved since them to a bedroom town for those working in Ghent.

Wachtebeke is the birth town of the painter Jozef de Caluwé (1900-1980), awarded the Grand Prize of the Queen Astrid Academy in 1932. De Caluwé is famous for his bouquets, landscapes and still lives. A skillful restorer, he contributed to the restoration of several paintings by Van Dyck.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 15 December 2007

Municipal flag of Wachtebeke

The municipal flag of Wachtebeke is horizontally divided blue-yellow with St. Catherine of Alexandria, in white, in the middle of the flag.
According to Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 29 March 1989, confirmed by the Executive of Flanders on 6 June 1989 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 8 November 1989.
The colours of the flag are (most probably) the traditional colours of Waasland, while St. Catherine, the patron saint of the parish, is portrayed as the supporter on the muncipal coat of arms.

The municipal arms of Wachtebeke are "Or a lion sable armed and langued gules holding in sinister a double-headed eagle sable armed gules". St. Catherine stands behind the shield, holding in dexter a wheel and in sinister a palm.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, martyred at the end of the IVth century, is famous for her mystic engegement with Wisdom ("I followed my Lord Jesus Christ and I will marry only my God"). She was able to answer all the objections made by the philosophers appointed to convince her that the Christian religion was a mistake. Her historic reality has been completely concealed by the legends added post hoc, including her martyre with four wheels armed with points. One of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages, Catherine was among the "voices" that called Joan of Arc. After her death, the body of the saint was carried away by angels on the Mount Sinai, where the monastery built on the landing place still exists.
St. Catherine of Alexandria, the patron saint of students, Christian philosophers, orators and lawyers, virgins and millers, is usually portrayed with a broken wheel. According to Duhout d'Argicourt (Alphabet et figures de tous les termes du blason, 1899), the St. Catherine's wheel shall be represented in heraldry with the tire reinforced with points or hooks.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 15 December 2007