Antwerp, Churches and Tourism
Tourism Pastoral, Diocese of Antwerp (TOPA vzw)

Saint Andrew’s Church

The pulpit

Carpentry: Jan Baptist Van Hool; sculpture group The Calling of the Apostles Andrew and Peter: Jan Frans Van Geel, 1821

In 1559 the wealthy banking family Fugger donated a simple Renaissance pulpit to their own parish church: St. Andrew’s. In 1821 this was sold to be replaced by the present, familiar, pulpit, a masterly baroque one, which is among the most famous ones in the world, up to the United States, where it even plays a leading role in a well-known children’s story.

The pulpit represents the calling of the apostles Peter and Andrew, the patron saint of this church, and brings the scene to life in three dimensions. The details testify of amazing craftsmanship. The two brothers and Jesus have been staged life-size, just as everything around them: the boat and the catch in the net, rocks, plants and even a crab and a lobster. Jesus speaks to the two future apostles while they are working as fishermen: ‘Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Mth. 4:19). Without hesitating but filled with admiration they leave their nets behind.

The foot of the pulpit is the ideal spot to contemplate ‘God’s calling’. As the cross on top makes clear, everybody who accepts this call must also be prepared to follow this path until the end: Andrew (literally: ‘the manful one’) was brave and was not afraid to pay his testimony of Jesus with his own life. This is why the Roman instrument of torture is shown to the parishioners as a trophy. After all they can be certain that he will find (eternal) life!

This is how Mathew tells the story (Mth. 4:18-20):

“ As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him.”