Sint-Pieterskerk Nave Looking Toward Apse St. Peter's Church
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
The present Gothic structure of Saint Peter’s Church was begun ca. 1425 (or earlier) with the choir, replacing earlier structures, the first dating from 986. A succession of city architects oversaw the building’s construction, which was nearly complete by 1497. The Stadhuis, or Town Hall, across the street from Saint Peter’s, was built during the same period by the same architects. The two World Wars in the 20th C. inflicted great damage on the church; as a result, it has been partially rebuilt (1945-1963, with later work on the West facade). Nevertheless, the church has salvaged a fine collection of works of sacred art. Since 1998 the chancel and ambulatory have been used to display these creations to visitors. In addition, the worship space itself is decorated with ancient pieces of sculpture and painting. Visible in this image is the large, ornate oak pulpit carved ca. 1742 by the Flemish artist Jacques (Jacob) Bergé (1693/1696-1756). The pulpit came to Saint Peter’s in 1807 from the Premonstratensian monastery in Ninove. It includes a life-size depiction of Norbert of Xanten’s near-fatal fall from his horse (1115), which prompted his radical conversion to a Christian way of life. Norbert later founded the Premonstratensian (Norbertine) order. Screening the nave from the choir is an ornate, triple-arched rood screen (jubé) in the Brabantine high Gothic style (ca. 1488). It is surmounted by a sculpted crucifixion group (Christ crucified, flanked by Mary, his mother, and John, the beloved disciple) which dates to the early 16th C. (This work is nearly obscured by light in this image.) Just in front of the screen, to the left is the 1442 sculpture of Sedes Sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom), created by Nicolaas de Bryne. It depicts Mary holding Christ portrayed as a child. This portrayal can be understood both as the Savior with his mother and as a symbol of the Church presenting the Word of God Incarnate to the world.
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