Even closer to Sint-Niklaaskerk than Sint-Baafskathedraal is Sint-Michielskerk (Saint Michael’s Church). It is this church, dedicated to the archangel Michael, that is my photo choice for Palm Sunday.
You can’t see the tower from this angle, but there is one — a mere 24 metres high. It was intended to be 134 metres tall, but the wars of religion (there were several) stopped the church’s construction in the sixteenth century. When construction began again a century later, the tower was never completed and it was only in 1828 that a roof was put on.
For the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I’m posting a photo of Sint-Niklaaskerk (Saint Nicholas Church). This is the view from around the back, which is what you see as you exit Sint-Baafskathedraal — that’s how jam-packed the medieval centre of Gent is.
Sint-Niklaaskerk dates back to the early thirteenth century and was built in the Scheldt Gothic style typical to Flanders at the time. Churches built in this style have a single large tower over the crossing, rather than the entrance. In the case of Sint-Niklaaskerk, the town bells were housed in its tower until the belfry next door was completed.
For the Fourth Sunday of Lent, I’m moving on to Gent. This is Sint-Baafskathedraal (Saint Bavo Cathedral). A church has stood on this site since one was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist in 942. The Gothic structure you see here was completed sometime in the mid-sixteenth century.
Around the same time, the diocese of Gent was founded. This church was selected as the diocesan cathedral, and rededicated as Sint-Baafskathedraal. Saint Bavo was a rather rambunctious, wealthy young man, who, after the death of his wife, gave away all his possessions and became a monk.
Displayed in the cathedral under high security is the magnificent Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Known formally as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, it has survived iconoclasm, revolution, dismantlement, fire, theft, and war. I highly recommend stopping by Gent to have a look at it for yourself.
The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) in Brugge is chock full of art. For starters, there’s Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. There’s also an Anthony Van Dyck, one of the many paintings he did of the crucifixion. And then there’s this magnificent triptych by the Flemish painter Bernard van Orley, which is my photo choice for today, the Third Sunday of Lent.
Note the tombs flanking the altar. They belong to Mary of Burgundy and her father, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Upon her father’s 1477 death at the Battle of Nancy, Mary became the Duchess of Burgundy and ruled until her death due to a riding accident at age 25.
During archaeological work done in the 1970s, Mary’s remains were positively identified. The tomb of Charles was found empty, however. Although his great-grandson, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, had the remains of Charles the Bold brought to Brugge, it is believed that they were buried in St. Donatian’s Cathedral of Brugge, which was destroyed after the French Revolution.