The religious congregation of the "Black Sisters" originates from a late branch of a medieval movement called "Cellites". Having originated in the Rhineland, this movement, which was devoted to the ideal of poverty, rapidly spread through the Low Countries. As its followers primarily cared for the plague-stricken, they could rely on huge backing from the local population.
In 1459, Pope Pius II issued a Papal bull as a result of which the communities of cellites could accept a monastic rule and make religious vows. The majority of the communities of cellites followed the rule of St. Augustine and received the predicate "Black Sisters".
In a letter from 1465 we find for the first time a specific denomination for the Convent of the Black Sisters in Brussels: "de swesteren in bruessel geheten thuys van affrica". It was one of the smallest convents in the city. But compared to other communities of Black Sisters in the Lowlands, the convent was rather rich, because Brussels was the administrative and political capital of the country, and because of this, the clients were financially stronger.
Following the move of the cloister from the centre of Brussels in 1998, part of their legacy was handed to the "Friends of the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart". A museum section was established to welcome the bequest of the community.
Paintings: Flemish school :16th till 19th century.
Furniture and art objects: Flemish, oak 17th till 19th century.
Dinnerware: silver, tin, china and copper: 17th till 19th century.
Statues: Flemish religious statues 14th till 19th century.
Brussels lace and Flemish - lace: 18th and 19th century.