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Churches of the Netherlands

Gallery: Churches of Gelderland

by Peter Kessler, 27 December 2009

Nijmegen Part 2: Churches of Benedenstad & Centrum

Nijmegen Synagogue

Nijmegen Synagogue is located at Nonnenstraat 21 in the central district of Benedenstad. It was first opened as a Jewish prayer house in 1756 - the first of its kind in the city - while the existing windows and entrance on the building date from 1798. It had extensive links with the adjoining school house around 1870, but in 1913 it was replaced by a new synagogue elsewhere in the city. After a long period of neglect the building was restored in 1975.

Doddendaal Monastery

Doddendaal Monastery (Klooster Doddendaal) is run by the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or Carmelites. Catholics were forbidden to worship when the Protestant Prince Maurits captured the city from the Spanish in 1591. However, the majority of the population remained Catholic despite the best efforts of Nijmegen's Protestant nobility. In 1808, King Louis Bonaparte allowed Catholic worship to return and this monastery opened later in the century.

Petrus Canisius Church

St Petrus Canisius Church (Petrus Canisiuskerk) is on Molenstraat in the city centre. By 1301 a church convent already existed here. In 1582, when power in Nijmegen was safely in Protestant hands, the monastery was sold and renamed 'Old Citizens Hospital'. By 1808 the monastery and church had different owners, but in that year Napoleon ordered a number of church buildings to be returned to Nijmegen's Catholics as they made up more than half of the city's population.

Petrus Canisius Church

In 1818, the 'regular church' in Molenstraat was brought back into use. Between 1821 to 1925 the church was named St Ignatius Church, after the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola. In 1874 the city walls were demolished and Nijmegen began to grow rapidly, greatly increasing the number of available parishioners. In 1897 it was decided to replace the old church building with a large, neo-Gothic church designed by Nicholas Miller.

Petrus Canisius Church

In 1925, the church was re-consecrated in the name of Nijmegen's St Peter Canisius (1521-1597) upon his canonisation. During the bombing of 22 February 1944, the church was largely destroyed, but was rebuilt between 1958-1960, with the majority of the new, Modernistic construction work being added to the surviving walls at the rear, under the eye of Siebers, the architect. Today, above the portal, is a large bronze Christ monogram with a diameter of 2.5 metres.

Marienburg Chapel

The Marienburg Chapel (Mariënburgkapel) is at Mariënburg 26, a little way south-east from Petrus Canisius. It dates from around 1431, and was the chapel for the Mariënburg Convent which closed down after the Protestants took the city. It is one of the few 'double churches', with an upper storey where the nuns used to attend services separated from the lay people on the ground floor. It is the only surviving part of the convent and now sits in a plaza surrounded by shops.

Additional text on this page by P Spies.



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