1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hal

HAL, a town of Brabant, Belgium, about 9 m. S.W. of Brussels, situated on the river Senne and the Charleroi canal. Pop. (1904) 13,541. The place is interesting chiefly on account of its fine church of Notre Dame, formerly dedicated to St Martin. This church, a good example of pure Gothic, was begun in 1341 and finished in 1409. Its principal ornament is the alabaster altar, by J. Mone, completed in 1533. The bronze font dates from 1446. Among the monuments is one in black marble to the dauphin Joachim, son of Louis XI., who died in 1460. In the treasury of the church are many costly objects presented by illustrious personages, among others by the emperor Charles V., King Henry VIII. of England, Charles the Bold of Burgundy, and several popes. The church is chiefly celebrated, however, for its miraculous image of the Virgin. Legend says that during a siege the bullets fired into the town were caught by her in the folds of her dress. Some of these are still shown in a chest that stands in a side chapel. In consequence of this belief a great pilgrimage, attended by many thousands from all parts of Belgium, is paid annually to this church. The hôtel de ville dates from 1616 and has been restored with more than ordinary good taste.