Initially the Sisters Maricolen (consecrated to the Holy Mary), did not form a recognized monastic order with vows. The members were engaged in manual labor, education and care for the sick. The Maricolen community of Leuven was founded in 1689. Their residence became the house ‘Emmaüs’, located at the Capucijnenvoer, adjacent to the Capuchin Monastery (location of the current Botanical Garden).
The sculpture of Christ lying in his tomb with a white perizonium around his loins was once placed in the burial chapel of the Maricolen.The statue was already carved in the early sixteenth century (ca. 1500), possibly by Bartel van Kessel (ca. 1460-1538), sexton of the Leuven Saint Peter's Church. According to the Leuven theologian Johannes Molanus (Lille, 1533 - Leuven, September 18, 1585), the Christ was originally located in a Calvary chapel outside the Brussels gate in Leuven and after this chapel was demolished it was given to the Maricolen for safekeeping. Molanus also believed that van Kessel sculpted figures of Christ after casts of corpses or still living men.
The statue’s two knees and his right hand have been renewed over time. The new hand is executed in a baroque style. The statue, which is made of walnut, still shows traces of polychromy. Most of the time, the body of Christ was probably covered with a robe. That would explain why only the head and the feet were regularly repainted.Literature: C. Engelen, M Marx, Jubileumboek 150 jaar Zusters van Maria te Leuven 1843-1993. Maricolen 1663-1843, tentoonstelling 4 februari – 27 februari 1994, Leuven 1994, pp. 74-75; C. Engelen, Passie, Tentoonstelling Generale Bank: 4 maart – 15 april 1988, Hasselt 1988, cat. n° 108.