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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One Response to Two Churches

  1. Johanna says:

    It was interesting to me to read Rick Steves’ post on FB this morning about churches and faith in Russia. Sounds the opposite of the Netherlands. I copied the text, and I hope somehow you can get to the gorgeous pictures. —
    Under communism, the state religion — atheism — tried to silence the faith professed by the majority of Russians. The Russian Orthodox Church survived, but many church buildings were seized by the government and repurposed (as ice-hockey rinks, swimming pools, and so on). Many more were destroyed. Soviet citizens who openly belonged to the church sacrificed any hope of advancement within the communist system. But since the fall of communism, Russians have flocked back to their church. (Even Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent and avowed atheist, revealed that he had secretly been an Orthodox Christian all along.) Today, three out of every four Russian citizens follows this faith — a high percentage for a country whose government was aggressively atheistic just a generation ago. Photos by Trish Feaster,

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