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

Saint Andrew's Church Antwerp

The side altars

In 1663, soon after the transepts had been built, each fraternity founded a side altar on either side of the nave.


The Holy Cross Altar

Marble, baroque portico altar with caryatides, Cornelis Van Mildert, 1665;
painting Calvary, Frans II Francken, 1603;
marble altar rails, Jan I and II Van den Cruyce, 1672.

Faithful to gothic symbolism, worship concerning Christ’s sacrifice of love on ‘the Cross’ is located on the south side. Since 1603, the former wooden altar had been adorned with a painted Calvary by Frans II Francken, a loyal parishioner of St. Andrew’s. In 1886, Vincent Van Gogh stood in admiration for the bright red sky against which the dead body of Christ is contrasted. The altar piece was adapted and was probably deprived of its wings in 1665, when Cornelis Van Mildert constructed an exuberant marble portico altar. While the two innermost pillars are heavy and twisted, the outermost two have been reworked into kindly caryatids bearing naturalistic wicker flower baskets on their heads, which act as capitals. Both these flower maidens take the high baroque character of this altar to its extreme.

Holy Cross Monument:

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24).

Saint Anne’s Altar

marble portico altar, Jan Van der Cruyce, 1674;
painting The Holy Kinship, attributed to Maarten Pepijn;
marble altar rails, attributed to Michiel I Van der Voort (?), 1720?

In 1594, another altar was consecrated, in honour of St. Anne, possibly already then with the present painting, which is sometimes attributed to Maarten Pepijn. By ‘The Holy Kinship’ the wider family relations of Saint Anne are meant, a typically medieval theme, which rather emphasized the broader kinship in a time when the individual family was not yet given so much importance. According to medieval tradition Anne successively married Joachim, Clopas and Solomas. From each of these marriages one daughter was born: Mary, Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome. It is obvious that the family ties between grandma Anne, mother Mary and the child Jesus were the central theme.

In 1673-’74 Jan Van der Cruyce constructed a marble portico altar, commissioned by the brotherhood of Saint Anne. Probably the dimensions of the old altarpiece were adapted.


Quite exceptionally, the altar rails  in front of both the pillar altars are still there. In line with baroque fashion, the constructional framework has been made in black marble against which the white, partly open, relief panelling contrasts.

The particularly decorative Holy Cross altar rails – a work by Jan I and II Van den Cruyce, 1671-72 – further illustrates Christ’s sacrifice on the cross through the instruments of the Passion.

The simpler rail for the St. Anne’s Altar, which dates either from 1675 or can be attributed to Michiel l Van Der Voort, around 1720, contains some saints’ medallions.