Saint Paul’s, the Antwerp Dominican church, a revelation
A small church that is not a parish church. It may be part of a larger entity such as a hospital, school, or an alms-house, or it may stand alone.
An enclosed part of a church with its own altar.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
The devotional statue of Mary and the pillar throne
(Willem I Kerricx, 1688)
The polychrome wooden statue of the Virgin Mary was made in Malines in the second half of the 16th century. It can no longer be retrieved whether this statue was venerated already before the Iconoclast Fury or only after the Dominicans had returned in 1585. Enveloped in a magnificent cloak the statue of the Virgin Mary is carried in a procession every year on the first Sunday of October, the one closest to 7th October, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On this occasion also the river Scheldt is Used of a person who has been beatified. Beatification precedes canonisation and means likewise that the Church recognises that this deceased person has lived a particularly righteous and faithful life. Like a saint, he/she may be venerated (not worshipped). Some beatified people are never canonised, usually because they have only a local significance., because as the traditional saying goes:
“Antwerp has the river Scheldt to thank for everything
And the river Scheldt has God to thank for Antwerp”.
After the 1679 fire the statue was given a worthy framing. Willem I Kerricx made a white marble pillar throne in late Baroque style, against the northern main pillar and signed and dated it (1688).
Angels of different sizes respectfully flock around the Virgin’s statue. The console carrying the statue has the traditional form of a globe, on which only the tracings of meridians and circles of latitude can be seen. After all, thanks to Mary Jesus is the saviour of all human beings, wherever on Earth they may be. Mother and Child have been given a kind of halo in the form of a large wreath of eighty-six gilded roses.
To stimulate confidence in the Rosary Prayer the two bas reliefs that flank the devotional statue bear witness of a miraculous event, which Priest who is a member of a religious order. Peter Vloers, prefect of the Brotherhood of the Rosary, mentions in the devotional booklet Wonderbaere Mirakelen vanden H. Roosen-Crans [Marvellous Miracles of the Holy Rosary] (1658). The umpteenth version of the popular medieval Theophilus or devil’s legend has been adapted to an Antwerp lady and the Antwerp Dominicans as her mediators. An old lady would do anything to be young and attractive again and (in the left medallion) is prepared to sell her soul to the devil for this. In exchange for this favour of extra earthly lust she will have to keep the devil company in hell for ever after her death.
The first scene, on the left, has been set in a wealthy middle class interior. The elegant, Christian woman is seated at a desk, behind which there is a fashionable gentleman, who can be recognized as the devil by the horns that stick out through his Louis XIV allonge wig. The lady hands over the bond she has just signed to the grinning and self-satisfied gent.
A second devilish character, in the shape of a lion with a writhing snakelike tail, in the doorway triumphantly menaces the woman with its rising claw, while with its tongue it eagerly licks its lips when looking at its prey. Such a sinister event cannot bear broad daylight: hence two nocturnal animals, symbolizing everything that shuns the light of day: an owl and a bat. The caption says
“Sy gheeft haer handt-schrift hier [Here she gives her manuscript]
aen ‘t helsche monster-dier”. [to the hellish monstrous animal]
In the right medallion, thanks to praying the rosary, the woman is given back her devilish contract in a church that is meant to represent This is a title that the Church bestows on a deceased person who has lived a particularly righteous and faithful life. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church, saints may be venerated (not worshipped). Several saints are also martyrs. Paul’s, where this scene took place ‘historically’ in 1578. Out of remorse the woman has just made her The sacrament of reconciliation. The believer [or penitent] confesses his / her shortcomings to a priest [the confessor] and expresses his / her regret. On behalf of God the priest grants forgiveness [absolution] and imposes a form of penance. This may include several prayers, an order to reconcile with the other party or, in the past, sometimes a pilgrimage., not knowing she has just confided in the devil. The true identity of the Dominican confessor can be seen from his horns, pointed devil’s ears and the devil’s tail. Weeping and drying her tears with a handkerchief, the lady tells her unfortunate story to a real Dominican, prior Henricus Van de Putte. He advises her to pray the rosary. The woman converts and becomes a member of the Brotherhood of the Rosary. When the prior wants to enforce her devotion by celebrating The liturgical celebration in which the Eucharist is central. It consists of two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The main parts of the Liturgy of the Word are the prayers for mercy, the Bible readings, and the homily. The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the offertory, whereby bread and wine are placed on the altar. This is followed by the Eucharistic Prayer, during which the praise of God is sung, and the consecration takes place. Fixed elements are also the praying of the Our Father and a wish for peace, and so one can symbolically sit down at the table with Jesus during Communion. Mass ends with a mission (the Latin missa, from which ‘Mass’ has been derived): the instruction to go out into the world in the same spirit. at Our Lady’s The altar is the central piece of furniture used in the Eucharist. Originally, an altar used to be a sacrificial table. This fits in with the theological view that Jesus sacrificed himself, through his death on the cross, to redeem mankind, as symbolically depicted in the painting “The Adoration of the Lamb” by the Van Eyck brothers. In modern times the altar is often described as “the table of the Lord”. Here the altar refers to the table at which Jesus and his disciples were seated at the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper. Just as Jesus and his disciples did then, the priest and the faithful gather around this table with bread and wine., the miraculous salvation takes place during the In the Roman Catholic Church, the moment when, during the Eucharist, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, the so-called transubstantiation, by the pronouncement of the sacramental words. of the A portion of bread made of unleavened wheat flour that, according to Roman Catholic belief, becomes the body of Christ during the Eucharist.. From Heaven a putto comes flying in who has succeeded in taking the contract concerned from the jaws of the flying devilish monster. The caption says:
“Den Roosen-Crans dwongh duyvels kracht [The Rosary forced devilish power]
Dat hy haer handt-schrift wederbracht.” [to return her manuscript]
By the gradual transition from the architectural background in sunken relief, to the personages in half-relief in front Kerricx has created a true three-dimensional space. The quality of the sculpting is highly due to the refined forms. By their elegant poses and gestures the figures obtain a natural character. Rarely has an artist been able to conjure such sophisticated details out of marble, rarely has a marble relief been so plastically narrative. Is the altar boy, who looks merely like a toddler, not cute? On the steps leading to the altar he is ringing the bells. He is exquisitely clothed and curls of hair come out from underneath the large slipping wig. Incredibly realistic is the way the lacework of the clothes has been rendered, the miniature This is the ritual that is the kernel of Mass, recalling what Jesus did the day before he died on the cross. On the evening of that day, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with his disciples. After the meal, he took bread, broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat. This is my body.” Then he took the cup of wine, gave it to his disciples and said, “Drink from this. This is my blood.” Then Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” During the Eucharist, the priest repeats these words while breaking bread [in the form of a host] and holding up the chalice with wine. Through the connection between the broken bread and the “broken” Jesus on the cross, Jesus becomes tangibly present. At the same time, this event reminds us of the mission of every Christian: to be “broken bread” from which others can live. tools and the rosary with small prayer beads in the woman’s hands. Even an inconspicuous detail as the wreath of true to nature roses on the cross on the Sleeveless coloured garment worn by the priest above the alb and the stole during mass. contributes to the story. Between the two medallions the story is summarized:
“Soo wie wilt syn bevrydt van lyf- en ziels gevaeren,
die sal dit Mari-Beldt met groote eer bewaeren,
een vrouw die lyf-en ziel-den duyvel had’ verkocht,
haer hand’-schrift voor dit beldt wierd wederom gebrocht.”
[who wants to be freed of body and soul’s dangers]
[he will honour this Mary statue,]
[a woman who had sold body and soul to the devil]
[was given back her bond in front of this statue]
The terra cotta modelli of these two medallions are kept in Saint James’ Church.
The footrest round the pillar has been decorated with five little painted panels (anonymous, 18th century), which encourage to call upon Mary’s relief by praying the rosary. From left to right:
- In three emergencies Mary comes to help: for a man who is drowning, at an attempted murder and when a house is on fire.
- In the hour of his death a sinner is menaced by devilish temptations, symbolized by hellish animals: two dangerous dogs, a snake and a bat. A Dominican hands him the traditional funeral candle and advises the rosary, which makes the dying person convert. In this way the scene represents the second part of the Hail Mary: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of death.”
- Our Lady offers the rosary to Dominic. The silhouettes of the towers above the city match those of Our Lady’s The main church of a diocese, where the bishop’s seat is. and of Saint James’ Church.
- Our Lady encourages the beseeching souls in purgatory.
- Our Lady protects a child from being possessed by the devil. The exorcised demon flies away. In front is vain and power mad Lady Luxuria, who, well dressed and adorned with a sceptre, a crown and a string of pearls, is trying to seduce the child. The quiver of Cupid, her accomplice, is lying in the bottom right corner.