Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek Mechelen (interieur)

Hanswijkstraat 69, Mechelen

Lucas Faydherbe was the sculptor equivalent of Peter Paul Rubens. He created the impressive relief arches below the dome of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek, a church which he also designed. 

Reliëfbogen van Lucas Faydherbe

Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk

After a long preliminary history, the foundation stone of the present church was laid in 1663, based on the design of sculptor-architect Lucas Faydherbe. The Baroque façade is modelled on Il Gesù in Rome. The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek was completed in 1681. The church comprises a lavish art collection, including religious furniture and textiles. Among the textiles is an 18th century antependium, the altar frontal, which has been classified a Flemish masterpiece.

Relief Arches - Lucas Faydherbe

Lucas Faydherbe created two highlights of Baroque sculpture in the Southern Netherlands in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek, which he himself designed. Two stucco reliefs are located in the niches just below the dome. Both The Adoration of the Shepherds and Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary are animated, dynamic and naturalistic scenes . Compositional ingenuity and expression go hand in hand. The lessons he learnt during his early years in the Rubens studio always stayed with him. Faydherbe created two terracotta designs in preparation of this project. These terracotta Flemish masterpieces will be on permanent display in the church from 2024. 

Beeld van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek

Statue of Our Lady of Hanswijk

The polychrome mercy statue of O.-L.-Vrouw van Hanswijk is associated with an unusual legend. In the 10th century, a fully laden ship ran aground on the banks of the river Dijle near Hanswijkdries. It was well and truly stuck. Crew members tried unsuccessfully to float it again until they brought the statue of the Virgin Mary that was on board at the time ashore. At that moment the ship refloated. Local residents saw this as a message from Mary who chose Hanswijk to be venerated. Thus, according to legend, it was given a place in the chapel dedicated to Lambertus and Catharina in 988. The statue currently on display in the basilica is not the original one. It was placed there in the late 16th century instead of the original. The 1.45 m high statue is traditionally carried along in the Hanswijk Procession every year. It is a true experience to come and watch the statue of the Virgin Mary being carried through the streets of Mechelen.

 

Monumental Pulpit - Theodoor Verhaegen

The pulpit was an important means of addressing people and was usually constructed upwards. It symbolizes the mount on which Christ preached. In the basilica, Theodoor Verhaegen has turned this instrument into a masterful work of art. Believers need not only listen, they can also see and feel the stories. Verhaegen had a special talent for crafting wood into vivid compositions, in which the carved oak figures appear to enter our world. In the emotionally charged sculpture that focuses on the narrative of repentance following the Fall of Man, the facial expressions of Adam and Eve are so realistic that you almost look with empathy at the bearded old man Yahweh expelling them. The Assumption of Mary is depicted above the pulpit sounding board.

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijkbasiliek Mechelen (interieur)

Practical information

Address

Hanswijkstraat 69
2800 Mechelen
Belgium
View directions

Opening hours

  • In summer, open Monday to Sunday from 09.00 to 17.00 hrs.
  • In winter, open Monday to Sunday from 09.00 to 16.00 hrs.
     


Accessibility

  • Easy access for people with disabilities.

Good to know

  • Admission: free. 

Other sites nearby

Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter Zege op de Zavel in Brussel
The majestic Our Lady of Victory at the Sablon is located on the Grote Zavel square at the heart of the Brussels antiques district. It is a veritable treasure.