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The Hospital chapel

Altar - 1905
The chapel is the oldest building in the hospital complex. It was built between 1476 and 1479, as you can read on the memorial stone on the outside wall along the ‘Gasthuisstraat’.

The chapel measures 23 m by 7.5 m and is 11 m high on the inside. It was erected in the simple brick gothic style of this region. It has a rectangular ground plan with a choir, closed on three sides, a ceiling in the shape of a wooden barrel and gothic windows. White sandstone is used in the skirting boards.

The present tower with its baroque spire was built by Peeter Janssens from Aarschot in 1707, after the previous one had been blown off by a storm in 1704.

During the second half of the 16th century or the first quarter of the 17th century, the back of the chapel was furnished with six alcoves and one box bed. This situation did not change until 1840.

The chapel is loaded with history. It was plundered and ravaged several times by both Catholic and Protestant troops who were very active in this region during the religious wars from around 1550 until 1650. In 1628 the chapel was significantly changed. Above the altar, a triptych by the artist Matheus Berckmans from Lier was placed. The main painting is a representation of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. Both side parts are painted on panel. On the left, you can see the martyrdom of St. Dimpna and St. Augustine offering his heart to the Holy Virgin. On the right, you can see the martyrdom of St. Gerebern and St. Elisabeth washing the feet of the poor.

In 1905-1906, the Gothic chapel was redecorated in a Neo-Gothic style, and a part of its original look was restored. The triptych was dismantled. The old wooden altar was removed and replaced in 1905 by the brass, partly gilt altar made by the Antwerp firm Van Rijswijck-Bogaerts. The current stained glass windows come from the Antwerp ‘Stalins & Zoon’ workshop. The organ situated on the sisters’ choir and above the first sick ward, was demolished. Under the nuns’ choir, the wall between the first sick ward and the rest of the chapel was removed as well as the alcoves. The sisters’ choir was lowered and brought approximately 1 meter (3.2 feet) behind the original wall. The organ too, was lowered; it was enlarged en renovated by the D’Hondt brothers from Herselt. In 1967 they placed a stained glass window, created by Jan Huet. The Chapel remained a public prayer room until 1969, when the sisters moved to their new buildings in the ‘Pastoor Van Neylenstraat’.