This is the story of Nello & Patrasche, if you haven’t noticed the sculpture in front of the Cathedral with a little boy and his dog sleeping under a blanket of cobblestones, well it’s about time you have a walk there and check it out. This story begins in 1872 in a novel called A Dog of Flanders and the story happens both in Hoboken and Antwerp.
A little boy named Nello has very little to live from, resides with his grandfather, weak in health, and his faithful dog Patrasche. They live in Hoboken (where there is another bronze statue to visit in Kapelstraat 3 made by Yvonne Bastiaans) and deliver milk around town with a cart. But Nello’s dream is to be an artist, he wants to see some painting of Rubens in Antwerp’s Cathedral: he’s fascinated by art. Becoming an artist is his biggest dream. With the help of his grandfather he wins an art contest that could change his fate, but unfortunately some life setbacks take over the good faith of this peasant boy who’s left with no money, no home and no family. Only Patrasche at his side for better or worse. And it’s really in the worst times that Patrasche stays with Nello. After finally seeing some piece of art of Rubens in the Cathedral, they will die together for cold and hardship in front of the Lady Cathedral where today they rest in peace together thanks to the artist Batist Vermeulen that made this touchy piece of sculpture.
All over the world people come to visit Nello and Patrasche, especially people from Japan and Korea. A Dog of Flanders quickly become one of the best selling translated books in these 2 Asian countries. It explains the presence of a lots of Asian people taking pictures nearby the sculpture that lies at the feet of the Cathedral today.