Base Jumping in a Basilica
April 12, 2012
The massive Koekelberg Basilica, formally known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, possesses a dome that is roughly 300 feet tall with a diameter of over 100 feet–easily dwarfing the faithful and situating them in a profound immensity that can’t help but draw sighs of awe, receive the pleas of the faithful, and…inspire the most impressive feat of base jumping we’ve ever seen. The details are scant, but apparently a group of jumpers may or may not have broken into the church after hours sometime last fall and proceeded to launch themselves off the clerestory ledge of the dome. As the impending splat neared, each of the divers released their chutes, sending them sailing through the pendentive threshold and down the nave before not-so gently landing in aisles of chairs.
It turns out that the dome is used for speleology training and climbing, so it isn’t hard to make the conceptual leap to base jumping. If this were the case, then the jumpers may have been accustomed to the particular “terrain”, though it seems unlikely. There is a sense of shock that seems unrehearsed, probably best exemplified by the P.O.V. reel that ends in a clamor of anguished yelps amid the clutter of scattered chairs. The dark, cavernous setting coupled with the impressional footage makes for an unnerving experience, not accounting for the sheer strangeness of the event itself. Still, it’s a rush, but, please, don’t repeat.