F. d’Aguilon & P. Huyssens
Antwerp, Hendrik Consciencesquare
1615 – 1621
In 1574 the Jesuit order bought the House of Aachen at the Korte Nieuwstraat to start to teach on this spot. Between 1576 and 1585 they had to leave the house because of the political struggles. They bought properties in this neighbourhood. They preservedthe House of Aachen, but the facade was revamped into a more baroque theme to go into the whole. The church, the professors’ house (where the jesuiets lived and worked) and the sodality (which now houses the Heritage Library) form three sides of the square. It is the first Baroque complex around a square in Europe outside Italy. Due to the location of the streets, you always approach the facades from the side, which gives it an even more impressive appearance.
The plans were drawn up by Fr. Aguilon and P. Huyssens. It took six years to build: from 1615 to 1621. Rubens probably contributed to the design. He already had some experience with Baroque architecture by makign sketches for his books on the palazzo of Genoa. He made the base for the emblem in the facade, the sketch is in the British Museum. Rubens also painted several paintings for the church, including 39 ceiling paintings. On July 18, 1718, however, there was a lightning strike and a lot of the interior went up in flames, including all Rubens ceiling paintings.
Unique in the world
In 1773, the order was abolished and all goods and buildings were sold publicly. In 1803 the church became an independent parish church, which it still is today. The school of the Jesuits moved to the Prinsstraat, now a university. Fortunately, several things survived the fire of 1718. For example the Maria chapel (on the right side of the church) consisting of many different types of marble. There are also still some original paintings, such as 2 of the 5 paintings of the main altar. Normally there is only one painting on the main altar, but here in the church the paintings, with a height of 5.35 meters, can be exchanged using the original system with robes. This still happens three times a year.
Sint-Carolus Borromeus church
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