Church of Our Lady across the Dyle

De wonderbare visvangst van Peter Paul Rubens (detail)

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat 87, Mechelen


Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most famous masters of his time. We can clearly see this in his Miraculous Draught of Fish in the Church of Our Lady across the Dyle. Go and take a look and listen to the sea waves, smell the silt air, feel the sand under your feet and experience the miracle for yourself!

De wonderbare visvangst - Rubens

Church of Our Lady across the Dyle

There was already a Church of Our Lady across the Dyle in this spot in 1236, but it was probably destroyed in the city fire of 1342. The current Gothic church was built from the 14th century onwards. The façades, the aisles and the tower are the oldest remaining parts. The new church too saw its own destructions when it became a target for the Protestants in the 16th century and during the Spanish Fury, when Spanish troops attacked Antwerp and its surroundings on 4 November 1576, causing considerable damage in the process. Later, the Church of Our Lady across the Dyle did not come out of the bombings of the Second World War unscathed either. So the church was thoroughly restored from 1945 onwards, including by architects Désiré Beeck and Jan Lauwers from Mechelen.

The Miraculous Draught of Fish - Peter Paul Rubens

The Miraculous Draught of Fish was commissioned from Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) by the fishmongers’ guild. The centre panel shows a group of muscular men drawing in their fishing nets. They are the apostles fishing fruitlessly, until Jesus encourages them to make a last a attempt. The right panel shows Tobias with the Archangel Raphael, a story in which the guts of the fish served to cure his father from blindness. The left panel shows us the finding of a denarius. This is Rubens at his best, with a work that feels as if it is bursting at the seams: powerful masculine bodies, characterful heads, foaming water and jumping fish. Rubens fulfilled and indeed exceeded the expectations of the fishmongers’ guild to render the richness of their trade and make it tangible. The work was saved from harm in spite of its wanderings and a church that was partially destroyed in the bombing of 1944.

The Entombment - Theodoor Rombouts

We recognise the hand of Antwerp painter Theodoor Rombouts (1597-1637) in his Entombment in the chiaroscuro, or the contrasts between light and dark. Rombouts travelled to Italy in 1616 and evidently stole with his eyes: he was very much impressed with the work of Caravaggio and his direct followers. Once back in Antwerp, he became the city’s most important Caravagisto. The basic ingredients are dramatic chiaroscuro, realism and expression.

De Graflegging - Theodoor Rombouts

The Last Supper - Jan Erasmus Quellinus

Jan Erasmus Quellinus (1634-1715) painted his Last Supper in 1690. The composition is monumental, with a staircase leading up to the table with the seated apostles. We should also note the landscape with the trees in the distant background. The body language of the apostles is typical: they are conferring with each other, looking for the one among them who will betray Christ. The composition in a classical palatial setting is strongly reminiscent of Paolo Veronese, one of the most important Italian painters of the 16th century. Quellinus travelled to Italy and got acquainted with Veronese’s work first hand.

Het Laatste Avondmaal - Jan Erasmus Quellinus
Het Laatste Avondmaal - Jan Erasmus Quellinus

Our Lady with the crooked waist

This probably 14th-century statue of Our Lady is the oldest sculpture in the Church of Our Lady across the Dyle. Its name refers to Mary’s posture, which is markedly crooked, as she is carrying the Baby Jesus on one of her hips. She is standing in a so-called ‘S line’, the natural posture of the hips when a mother carries her child on her arm. Legend has it that the sacristan of the church did not get up in time one day to open the church door and toll the bells for the Angelus prayer, at which point Our Lady took on the task and rang the bells for him. And this made her spine crooked.

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw met de Scheve Lee

Practical information


Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat 87
2800 Mechelen
View directions

Opening times

  • From 1 April to 31 October from 1 until 5 pm.

  • From 1 February to 31 March from 1 until 4 pm.

  • Closed on Mondays.

Disabled access

  • Partially accessible for the disabled.

Nice to know

  • Admission: free

Other sites nearby

De aanbidding der wijzen, Pieter Paul Rubens
Not only can visitors admire Peter Paul Rubens’s Adoration of the Magi, its tower also hides some unique 14th-century murals.