Antwerp's St Andrew's Church, a revelation.
St. Andrew in 'his' Church
For a while, Andrew watched over his parish, sitting as a weathervane on top of the former church tower. Today, the saint welcomes visitors from above the main entrance. Up until 1929, the saint’s statue took part in the procession, dressed in festive bishop’s vestments. Painted in neo-Gothic style, this procession statue (ca. 1600?)with its character head currently welcomes visitors at the side entrance in the southern transept.
The image of the parish’s patron can be found on many a ceremonial staff, procession banner, altar cross, offertory box, fraternity register or name panel. His emblem, the St. Andrew’s Cross, marks the tower cross, the church floor, the pulpit roof; further, the cross sign is seen on the tabards, the churchwardens’ chairs, the stationery and even on a churchwardens’ safe
Over the centuries, a miniature life cycle of the saint was set up inside the church. Initially, Andrew was awarded the place of honour at the main altar, where his Martyr’s Death (by Otto van Veen) caught the eye. In true Counter-Reformation style, the altar project of the late 17th century set out to underline the saint’s apotheosis with a group of statues that would be set, literally, in the light of a Baroque cupola construction; however, this design was never executed.
When the current main altar was put in place in 1807, the altar painting by van Veen had to be removed and was placed on a less conspicuous side wall of the choir. However, the patron saint was given full attention once again in the main stained glass window of the southern transept (by G. Barry, 1920). In the window’s lowest register, the saint can be seen kneeling before the cross of his martyrdom, not fatalistic, but longing to embrace the wood. In the upper register, his glorification in heaven has now been depicted as well: together with his brother Peter, Andrew is received by Jesus.
At the foot of the current pulpit (1821-1825), Andrew’s calling serves as an inspiration to anyone coming to listen to the power of Jesus’ message.