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

Saint Andrew’s Church

The high altar

Marble; reliefs below: Peter I Verbrugghen, 1665; statues: Willem Ignatius Kerricx, 1729

The eye-catcher in this church is the baroque marble altar, which fills the entire width of the presbytery.  Originally it was in the former Cistercian Abbey of St. Bernard in Hemiksem near Antwerp. After the abbey had been abolished by the French Revolutionary Regime it was shipped on the Scheldt to its present destination. The colossus only fitted tightly.

Its origins are shown from depictions of the two founders of the Cistercian order: on the right Saint Robert of Molesmes with a church model, on the left Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – the spiritual driving force of the order, with … a beehive. His popular sermons added to his nickname ‘the honeytongued teacher’.

We witness a genuine theatre performance: filled with awe life-size figures express their astonishment at the assumption of Mary, who is in the centre of the halo of God’s glory. In Summer this altar is playfully lit until dusk, bringing each figure spectacularly to life.

The marble reliefs depict the Eucharist: on the central panel a historical reference to the Last Supper, with a sumptuous 17th century table setting; at the sides adoring putti and angels joyously carry wine, grapes, and ears of corn for the sacred meal. Do you see the two angels providing the liturgical instruments for the hand-washing and incensing?