History and Paintings Pierreof Saint John
Cathedral and city have a rich history. Prosperity and adversity. War and peace. Visits of kings and emperors. Piety and iconoclasm. Fire and recovery. Highlights and lows. The history of our church in chronological ( logical order )


St-John Catedral /Collage

St-John Catedral /Collage/Oil Paintings /Pierre .


From the St JOHN / series  / Oil Paintings 

1185 Hendrik van Brabant

founded in 1185 on the ducal domain Orthen a new city: ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Initially, the citizens go to church in the St. Salvator Church in Orthen.

Around 1220 the construction of a church starts, dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist. This brick church in Romanesque style is built on ‘de Pepers’, a piece of land belonging to the Duke, outside the city walls. Little is known about this first Saint John and little is retained. Only the lower part of the current tower still reminds of this time.

In 1318, Duke Jan III of Brabant gave permission to expand the fortifications of the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This makes the Saint John safe to lie within the walls. Also in that year a brotherhood, which has set itself the worship of Mary, officially receives recognition from the bishop of Liege.
This ‘clerc brotherhood of our Women’, later called the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap, consists initially of ‘sworn brothers’, at most a few dozen and all clergy. But thousands of ‘outside members’ quickly join in, men and women from all over Western Europe. This is the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Brotherhood a rich and leading organization.

On January 20, 1366,

the Bishop of Liège elevates Saint John to a collegiate church to which a chapter of thirty canons is connected. They sing the daily choral prayer, provide education in the city and manage the church.
It is not unlikely that the establishment of this chapter and the development of the city into one of the largest in the north of the Netherlands contributed to the Bosschenaren being found time for a new church. To build in the style of those days, the Gothic. A building style that originated in northern France in the course of the twelfth century.

In 1380 the construction of the gothic Sint-Jan started

with a design by Willem van Kessel. He is connected to the Sint-Jan as a master builder from about 1380 to 1407, possibly even until his death around 1425. At that time the choir, the choir and the radial chapels were completed. During the construction the Romanesque church remains in use.
Around 1380 an old – and ugly – Mary statue was found in the stonemason shed of the church. But because there are some miracles around the statue, the Sweet Lady gets her own chapel in the church. ‘S-Hertogenbosch grows into a place of pilgrimage.
Characteristics gothic church
The stability was greatly increased by applications of pointed arches and cross vaults. At the same time, it was achieved in such a way that the weight no longer pressed on the entire width of the wall, but concentrated on a few points. To relieve pressure on these points, airbows were placed on the outside of the choir and ship. Now that the walls were no longer needed to support the weight of roofs and vaults, large windows could be made. The churches became higher, larger and lighter.

In 1413 the Pope officially separated St. John from the St. Salvator Church in Orthen. The Saint John is then already taller than her mother church, but still has no directing. After the verdict of the pope, ‘s-Hertogenbosch finally gets its own pastor. The parish of St. John at that time included the entire area within the fortifications.


On May 8, 1481, the Order of the Golden Fleece is held in St. John: 33 highly esteemed nobles visit the church for several days, together with their great result. Among them, Emperor Maximilian, various dukes and knights. The only 3-year-old Philip the Fair, the future Prince of the Netherlands and short-lived King of Spain, is knighted in St. John’s.
Thanks to this event, the church gets even more charisma in Western Europe. These are the heyday of St. John as a place of pilgrimage with the miracle image and place of piety with a distinguished status.

On May 12, 1559, Pope Paul IV

, in consultation with King Philip II, the Lord of the Netherlands, appoints fourteen new dioceses in the Netherlands, including ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The king wants to strengthen his grip and the supervision of the Catholic believers.
The bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch receives the Sint-Janskerk as his cathedral, so that the collegiate chapter is elevated to the rank of cathedral chapter. The first bishop of ‘s-Hertogenbosch is Franciscus Sonnius.

1566 On 22 August 1566 the Beeldenstorm

rages in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The reformed, under the leadership of the Calvinist preacher Cornelis Walraven from Diest, destroyed and looted many chapels, monasteries and churches, including St. John.
A second Beeldenstorm in October of that year, Sint-Jan again hit hard. The chapel of the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap is also thoroughly destroyed. Thanks to the support of the government in Brussels, Catholics gradually strengthen their position again. At the end of 1566 the Catholic clergy preached again in the church. In April 1567, the reformed left the city en masse.

In 1569, the city council and the chapter of Saint John divided the city into four parishes. The arrangement stipulates that the chapel of Saint Jacob and the chapel of St Peter’s will be elevated to parish church. The convent church of the Crosiers becomes parish church of Saint Catherine.
Bishop Sonnius approves the parish division. The Saint John must give up parts of her territory, but remains herself a parish church. The city council emphatically states that the baptized in the three other parish churches have the same privileges.


On July 25, 1584,

the lightning strikes 85 meters high in the wooden central tower, with a copper St. John statue on the spire. From the burning tower a devastating spark of sparks descends on the roofs of the church.
The fire also reaches the west tower and the carillon and the loud bells pour down meltingly. The large organ, which stands against the eastern wall of the tower, is also destroyed. Eventually the remainder of the tower burns down on the southern transept. The havoc is indescribable.


The recovery of the cathedral takes a lot of time and money. The roofs will not be ready until 1594. From 1610, new artworks are produced; replacing what was lost, but also as an expression of the triumphant self-confidence of the Counter Reformation.

Coenraed van Norenborch produces a new oksaal and the Antwerp artist Hans van Mildert a new main altar. These magnificent renaissance art works were lost in the nineteenth century for Saint John. However, the monumental organ remains intact against the west tower. With the completion of this organ, in 1622 the repair work was completed after the great fire of 1584.


After a siege lasting about four and a half months

, Frederik Hendrik, the Prince of Orange, with his troops on 17 September 1629 moves into the city. Two days later the first reformed service takes place in St. John.
All Catholic clergy are given two months to leave the city; the ecclesiastical goods expire to the States General.
Until 1813 St. John serves as a house of prayer for the Dutch Reformed congregation. Approximately one-fifth of the population of Bosa becomes Protestant, the remainder remains Catholic and is dependent on shelter churches for religious practice.

In 1646 the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap

(also known as Zwanenbroeders) – after a heated discussion – was transformed into a mixed Protestant-Catholic association of a maximum of 36 members, of both faiths 18. New statutes are coming. There is no room for outside members.
A group of orthodox pastors, among whom Reverend Voetius, furiously reacts to the conversion of the Brotherhood, where there is still room for Cathoilics. Violent polemics are the result.
In 1818, the Prince of Orange, later King William II, was invited to become Swan Brother. Since then many members of the Royal Family are members of the brotherhood. With this, the old thread is taken up again in a sense. The current King, Willem-Alexander, is, just like his mother Beatrix, a member of the Brotherhood.

The foundation of the Batavian Republic after the arrival of the French in 1798 is a turning point for political and ecclesiastical relations. The Dutch Reformed Church is no longer favored as a state church. The Bossche catholics get hope again to get the Great Church back, as the Saint John was then called.
In May 1810, Napoleon Bonaparte said on his visit to the city that Catholics would get their church back. But after the defeat of the French, it takes some time of difficult negotiation to settle the property of Saint John. On December 11, 1816, King William I finally signed the Royal Decree, whereby Saint John was definitively returned to Catholics.

In 1840 the Saint John becomes parish church again. After the restoration of the episcopal hierarchy, the diocese of ‘s-Hertogenbosch will also be restored. Mgr. Zwijsen was appointed bishop in 1853.
He is working to get the image of the Sweet Lady back from Brussels. That works. They struggle, because the Belgians have started to view the image as their property in more than 250 years. But the persuasion power of Mgr. Zwijssen is great. He even manages to bring back the Miracle Book to Saint John.
On 27 December, the feast day of John the Evangelist, the Miracle statue returns to St. John in a solemn procession.

The Protestants

have tried to maintain the Great Church. However, the decline is unstoppable; In the middle of the 19th century, grass, plants and shrubs grow on some parts of St. John. Pinnacles, crucifixes and other decorations have been severely damaged or completely disappeared.
In 1853 the Provincial Society also writes a competition for a restoration plan. Eventually, the sculptor and architect Stephen L. Veneman becomes the architect designated. Under his leadership, restoration began in 1859 with the restoration of the northern transept. Lambert Hezenmans takes over the lead after three years.

On June 22, 1929, St. John received the honorary title of basilica by decree at the 75th anniversary of the return of the Miracle statue.
There are two types of basilicas. The basilica majores are in possession of a papal altar and a Holy Door, which is only opened in the Holy Year.
The majores are located in Rome: Saint John of Latherans, Saint Paul outside the walls, Mary Maggiore and Saint Peter. Outside of Rome, Saint Francis is also allocated to Assisi. The Netherlands has eight basilicas minores, including St. John.

1975 The first restoration

of the Saint John is finished around 1946. The second starts in 1961 and will last until 1985. Now the large west tower and the contaminated and damaged interior are also included.
From under old and loose lime layers, the original painting appears again. Partly this second restoration is also ‘the restoration of the restoration’. Many previously used types of stone do not always appear to be suitable.
In June 1984 the construction sheds at the Sint-Jan were demolished and on 31 December 1985 the restoration committee was definitively dissolved.
There is then a year with many festivities around the commissioning of the restored cathedral during the eighth anniversary of the city. The highlight for St John and the city is the Pope John Paul II’s visit to the cathedral.

St-John Cathedral/ Foto/Winter

St-John Cathedral/ Foto/Winter


More than five years after the end of the second restoration, severe forms of weathering are found on the north and east sides of St. John. Collars and pinnacles become loose and there is imminent danger for falling rocks and vandalism. The regular maintenance work is no longer sufficient.
The master plan for another restoration, to be drawn up in March 1998, includes the large-scale replacement of tuff stone sculpture and stonemasonry. Two years later, it also appears necessary to replace the rusted anchors. This meant that the facades had to be disassembled brick by brick and rebuilt later. The Sint-Jan is then in the pipeline for ten years.
The extensive project, in which during the last two years also the southern side of the Saint John is involved, has its successful completion at the end of 2010.
Thanks to the support of the national government, the province of Noord-Brabant and the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which account for 80 percent of the costs and many generous gifts from private individuals and companies that are brought together via the Sint-Jan National Monument Foundation, the result is beautiful.
The St. John is again pico bello. To keep it that way, annual maintenance is a condition. There is a lot of money involved. Only if we continue to work together can we safeguard St. John’s in the future from large scaffolding.

Source; St-John Cathedral ..’s-Hertogenbosch the Netherlands

Kind Regards .


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