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City Discovers First Mayor Left Them His Heart. Literally

It was sealed inside an old fountain
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2020 2:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – During the renovation of a fountain in the Belgian city of Verviers, officials discovered that the old rumors were true: Pierre David, the city's first mayor, had literally given his heart to Verviers. The organ was sealed in a jar of alcohol inside a small zinc casket entombed near a bust of the mayor, the BBC reports. "An urban legend has become reality," city official Maxime Degey told local media, adding that the casket renovation workers found in August was "in really impeccable condition." An engraving on the casket reads: "The heart of Pierre David was solemnly placed in the monument on 25 June 1883."

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David died in a fall from a hayloft in 1839, more than 40 years before the fountain was completed. He first started overseeing the city in 1798 and established Verviers' first fire service in 1802. During the tumultuous next few decades, Belgium passed from French rule to Dutch rule and finally became independent in 1830, when David was elected again and brought peace to the city after the Belgian Revolution. The heart will be on display at a local arts museum until mid-September, the Brussels Times reports. It's not clear whether the city plans to return it to the fountain. (Read more Belgium stories.)

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