The Cross of the Fiancées

The Cross of the Fiancées

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Mark Billiau.


Premium (World), region Antwerp, Belgium

The Cross of the Fiancées

This cross in the swamp is in memory of a tragic event.

On 21 January 1871 Francois Reiff (age 32) and Marie Solheid (age 24) went crossing on foot the swamp plateau from Jalhay to Xhoffraix (the birthplace of Marie) with the intention to pick up documents for their upcoming wedding.

During their 18km. route an immense heavy snow storm broke loose and the bog was soon completely covered with a thick blanket of snow.
With visibility zero the plateau was barely passable and it was freezing -20°C.
All of this took so much of their strength that Marie died exhausted on the spot where now stands the cross.

Francois who was not familiar with the area, had unsuccessfully sought help everywhere, but he died a few days later, in turn of misery and exhaustion.

Their bodies were only found two months later in March 1871, when the thaw began.
In the jacket of Marie a note written by Francois was found : "Marie has just died, and soon it will be my turn"

It’s a true story, not a legend.

Location : Grande Fagne (nature reserve ‘Hohes Venn’, Belgium)

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