Two Churches

Over the past few days I visited the Netherlands with a friend who has family there. We had the good fortune of concelebrating Mass in two particularly beautiful churches during our stay (three really, but two that I photographed).

The first was St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Groningen. Every Sunday they have a Latin Mass (Novus Ordo), so we were able to concelebrate since both of us are capable of reciting the Mass in Latin. (I would not have been able to do so in Dutch!)

The church’s impressive high altar.

This church used to be a “simple” parish church; only later did it become the cathedral.

One of the panels on the Marian altar: a carving of the Annunciation.

The other church was St. Willibord’s in Utrecht. It is in a similar style to St. Joseph’s, but even more ornate and overall quite beautiful. It is definitely one of those places that one does not forget.

A kindly Dutch gentleman open the church for us (it is closed on Mondays) and served Mass. He spoke to us in Dutch-French-English (mostly Dutch, a few French words, and a little English). We concelebrated Mass in Latin.

The high altar; all I had was my cell phone camera, so I could not capture as well as I would have liked the gorgeous detail of the carved scenes on the reredos.

If you look up in the following picture, you can get a glimpse of the traditional “rood” – a crucifix flanked by the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist, suspended above the sanctuary.

To say nothing of the gorgeous stained glass.

The faith in the Netherlands is, unfortunately, basically dead. What was once an energetic, robust, and missionary church is now foundering, tired, and fading fast. Will such churches survive? Will they be there for future generations? It really is a travesty. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see them (and others) while they are still open.

Another post on another day about the reasons for the above-cited problems and what we might do about it…

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