The Church St Nicolas of Brussels!

In our trips to Brussels, we discovered many things, many are very popular, after all a popular tourist destination. However, some are less popular but the impact is bigger , unique, historical, and I like history. I have mentioned it in  my many previous blog posts on Brussels but never a page for itself, which it merits. Therefore, this is it ,the post of the Church of Saint Nicolas of Brussels! It is by rue de la Beurre surrounded by wooden old houses in a residential area. Hope you enjoy the update as I.


The Church Saint. Nicolas of Brussels, built around 1125, is one of the first four churches of the city of Brussels and best preserved in its successive developments. Being close to the Bourse’s palace (stock exchange), it is commonly called Saint-Nicolas de la Bourse or Saint-Nicolas-au-Marché ,of the Market.  Close to the Senne river, Saint-Nicolas was the oratory of the district of the merchants and those whose activities depended on the small river port. (Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myre, is the Patron Saint of the merchants). Built in 1125, the church was still dependent on the Chapel of Saint-Michel parish in 1174.

The interior structure is surprising, with the choir extending obliquely to the central nave. This is a testament to the turbulent history of the Church. From the Romanesque church (12C) there are still some vestiges in the entrance porch, discovered during the reconstruction of the façade in 1956. This Romanesque Church was equipped with a tower-shaped front-body, which is mentioned in 1289. This tower housed the bells of the city and was therefore the belfry of Brussels. Destroyed by a storm in 1367, it was immediately rebuilt. The choir is what remains of the oldest as it dates from 1381.   The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, in extension of the left aisle of the nave, was added in 1486.

bru-ch-st-nicolas-chapel-of-Virgin and child-dec12

The Church Saint Nicolas was damaged during the religious troubles of 1579, which led to the separation of the Catholic Southern Netherlands (and under Spanish domination) from the northern United Provinces (Protestant). A century later, new damage was caused by the bombardment of Brussels of 1695. On this occasion, the tower was destroyed for the second time, the bells half-melted by the fire having fallen and having crushed the lower  floors.  The bell tower, unable to withstand the weight of the carillon of thirteen bells that had just been reinstalled, collapsed in 1714. The Church was closed in 1797 and sold in 1799 (during the French revolution upheavals). It was a question of demolishing it, but it was bought by the former Masters of Factory and then returned to worship in 1804.  The main façade was rebuilt in 1956.  The Church was completely restored between 2002 and 2006.

Many paintings of masters adorn the walls of the church such as a Virgin and the Child of a disciple of Rubens.  The confessional, the pulpit of truth in the Louis XVI style of the late 18C, the grille and the choir stalls (18C) are other works of art. The most recent work is a modern-style canopy-the assumption of the Virgin done on the occasion of the restoration of the Church in 1956. It is installed above the entrance gate.  Also, Vladimir Icon of St Nicolas, painted in 1131 by an artist from Constantinople. It was here that the Brabant painter, Michael Sweerts, was baptized in 1618.


The shrine of the Martyrs of Gorcum:  In June 1572 nineteen people, priests, religious-including 11 Franciscans-and lay Catholics, were put to death in Gorcum (Gorinchem) in the Netherlands for their faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and their attachment to the Pontifical authority. The martyrs of Gorcum were beatified in 1675 and canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX.  Since the canonization of the Martyrs of Gorcum in July 1867, it was choosen to celebrate the same year of the feasts in their honor in the Church of St. Nicholas, because this Church was near the place where stood until the French Revolution the convent of Recollets, to which several of the martyrs, including the Brussels natives, had belonged. On this occasion, the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen offered to the Church St. Nicholas a skull of a martyr, which was placed in a shrine with other bones of the same martyrs, sent by the convent of the Recollets of Gand. In 1868, a new gilded copper shrine was made , which can still be seen today.


Recently, the  bronze copy of Saint Nicolas, which has just been installed in the Grand Place as the original, completely restored, has found refuge in the Church St. Nicolas.  The statue of St. Nicolas was dismantled for security reasons. It was agreed to make a copy of bronze and restore the original to ensure a conservation in the best conditions. The statue represents a standing St. Nicolas, leaning with one hand on the stock and blessing three small children at his feet. Saint-Nicolas is considered the Patron of the Haberdashers, a corporation owning the house since 1641.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip to see this beauty are:

The Brussels Tourist office on the church

There you go folks, a dandy in nice Brussels. Hope it helps you enjoy the Church Saint Nicolas ,will make your trip a fully enjoyable one surrounded by history and architecture. The area is very nice too.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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