Saint Gertrude's Abbey and Church : Saint Quentin's Church ; Saint Anthony's Chapel (with Crypt of Father Damien) ; Saint James' Church

 
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A Visit to Leuven : Historical Churches around Town

(note : Saint Peter's Church and Saint Michael's Church are on separate pages)

Saint Gertrude's Abbey and Church

Tower of Saint Gertrude's Abbey Church, Leuven

 

Tower of Saint Gertrude's Abbey Church, Leuven.

Saint Gertrude's abbey was an Augustine abbey, limited to 12 canons of noble descent. The church was built from the 14th to the 16th century. The tower has an openwork spire, dating from 1453. Inside is an 18th century carillon. The tower is one of the original 'seven wonders' of Leuven, and referred to as the 'tower without nails'.

The abbey was closed in 1796 (French occupation) and the buildings got other uses. In 1919 it became a Benedictine abbey. Reconstructions were carried out after the fire during World War II. The abbey grounds (compound outside the church) at present has mixed uses, and is like a little pleasant park to hang out or have a quiet rest.

During the second world war, the church (as many others in Leuven) was seriously damages. The artistic choir stalls seemed beyond repair. Fortunately photographs (by a German officer!) existed. After the war, the stalls were recreated by sculptors, who did an excellent job. The choir with its many wooden sculptures is now one of Leuven's most outstanding works of art. One can distinguish between original parts and later parts by judging the colors of the wood, the older parts being darker.

The history as written in the Bible, church leaders, the life of Our Lady, the life of Jezus, the four gospel writers, etc., are depicted in scenes of the many wooden sculptures.

Choir Stalls at Saint Gertrude's Church, Leuven
Choir Stalls at Saint Gertrude's Church, Leuven.

Saint Quentin's Church

Saint Quentin's Church lies about in the middle of the Naamse straat. The substructure of its tower is still in 13th century Romanesque style. Construction of the present church started in 1440. The church is a parish church. If you happen to be there at the time, each summer over the last few years, there have been guitar recitals by Jan Wouters, which we highly recommend.

Saint Quentin's Church in the Naamse Straat, Leuven
Saint Quentin's Church in the Naamse Straat, Leuven.

Saint Anthony's Chapel (Crypt of Pater Damiaan)

Early chapels at the site, date back to the 14th century. The present building dates from the 16th century, with changes during the 19th and 20th century. The chapel occupies a corner on Damien Square in Leuven.

A modern crypt now lies under the historic chapel, with the remains of Father Damien, apostle of the lepers on Molokai. His remains were moved here in 1936. Father Damien (Pater Damiaan, born Jozef De Veuster) was beatified in 1995, and became a saint in 2009.

Saint Anthony's Chapel in Leuven
Saint Anthony's Chapel in Leuven.

 

Crypt of Father Damien under Saint Anthony's Chapel, Leuven
Crypt of Father Damien under Saint Anthony's Chapel, Leuven.

Saint James' Church (Sint-Jacobskerk)

Saint James' Church, located along the Brusselse Straat, Leuven
Saint James' Church, located along the Brusselse Straat, Leuven.

Saint James' Church (Sint-Jacobskerk) is considered 'unstable' and is not open to the general public. Only the tower remains of the original church, and is in late Romanesque style, dating from 1220-1230, clearly early times in the history of Leuven. The tower has a bell called 'Barbara' on the outside. This is one of the original seven wonders of Leuven.
Parish church since 1252, and collegiate church since 1454, later on pilgrimage church.

Apparently the church has been closed since 1964!!! There are 'plans' to restore the church.
Actually, quite a few of Leuven's churches were destroyed and later rebuilt or renovated after the Second World War. We can only guess that money ran out, or the times had changed, when Saint James' Church needed support.

The church is located along the Brusselse straat, and clearly is still impressive from the outside. The name of Saint James (Sint Jacob) is well known in Leuven, because it is also used for the car parking area, located near the church.

The bell outside the tower, at Saint James' Church of Leuven, one of the original seven wonders of the city
The bell outside the tower, at Saint James' Church of Leuven, one of the original seven wonders of the city.

 

 

Information about Leuven :

Townhall

Oude Markt (Old Market Square)

Bookstores in Leuven

University Central Library

Park Abbey, Heverlee

Saint Peter's Church

New : Saint Michael's Church

New : Saint Gertrude's Abbey ; Saint Quentin's Church ; Saint Anthony's Chapel (Father Damien Crypt) ; Saint James' Church

University Buildings in Leuven

Grand Beguinage of Leuven

Outside Leuven :

New : Basilica of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel

New : Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren

 

 

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