CONFESSIONALS AND RECONCILIATION
Conffesionals and carved oaken panelwork made by: FRANCISCUS ANDREAS DURLET (1816 – 1867)
All of us at one time or other depart from the Christian ideal and do things we are not supposed to do. In the conffesional you can confess these “sins” to the father confessor, who will absolve you from your sins if your contrition is truly meant. This way you can reconcile yourself with God and your fellow men.
What you say in the confessional is strictly confidential: the priest must not tell anyone else. In confessionals of this type the priest cannot even really see who is sitting before him. The anonymity of the penitent (ie the person confessing) is guaranteed to some extent by the lattice-work between priest and confessor. This type of confession “box” is typical of traditional Roman Catholic church interiors, but can also be found in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. The confessionals in this church are not used that often, though a personel confession (in the confessional or elsewhere in private) is still possible, usually on appointment with the parish priest. And yet this does not mean that “reconciliation” is not important in the life of our parish”s community. In anticipation of the larger festivals of the Church (Christmas, Easter,…) reconciliation services are held in which the priest lays hands on the people (and hands are laid on him), as a sign of healing, forgivenes and reconciliation with each other and with God.
STATUE OF OUR LADY OF THE CASTLE
After the riots of 1566, the duke of Alva succeeded Margaretha of Parma as governor of The Netherlands. With his Spanish military forces he restored order. Beyond the Kronenburg Gate, on domains belonging to the parish of Saint George, he put up a stronghold.
In 1574, a new parish came about around this fortification’s church. The statue of Mary that adorned the top of the entrance soon was named Our Lady of the Castle. In 1588, the brotherhood Our Lady of the Castle was founded. The devotion for this statue should last longer than the Spanish forces. In 1821, the statue was moved to the church of Saint Joseph where a new cult arose. When this church had to be left, the statue found temporary accommodation in the Terninckschool. On 8 september 1853, it was transferred to the church of Sint-Joris.
THE PULPIT & THE PREACHING OF THE WORD
Oaken pulpit made by: JOSEPH DUCAJOU (1823 – 1891)
Spreading the faith and preaching the gospel is one of the Church’s central tasks. Before the advent of microphones and electric soundinstallations the pulpit took up a central place in the church building, literally right in the middle of the faithful congregation. In earlier times, when Roman Catholic priests celebrated the Holy Eucharist in Latin at the main altar (which was usually at some distance from the flock) the priest came down from the altar and went up to the pulpit for his sermon. The churchgoers turned their chairs in the direction of the pulpit. (Most Roman Catholic churches had loose kneeling chairs rather than benches or pews.)
Like most pulpits, the one you can see here has a sort of “roof”: a soundboard, which makes sure the preacher’s voice is directed downwards towards the people. This use of soundboards can still be seen in many modern concert halls where “acoustic panels” direct the sound.
From the pulpit the message of the Gospel was preached en explained. The preacher prays that he is inspired by the Holy Spirit: hence the white dove (symbol for the Holy Spirit) that you see in the middle of the soundboard, right above the preacher’s place.
Our pulpit exhibits many more symbols. Have a look at the sculpted fruits on the newel posts of the stairs. These are pomegranates. Pomegranates – from time immemorial – have always been symbols of fertility: they are filled with small seeds which are spread everywhere when the fruit bursts open. And that is why these fruits belong here: the preachers spread the gospel. The pulpit is no longer in use. Sermons are now preached from the “lectern” to the left of the main altar, where also the Scriptures are read and the prayers are said. The proper name for this lectern is “ambo”. Both the ambo and the pulpit are evidence of the importance of the spreading of the word of God.
SAINT ROCH RELIQUARY
Made by: EGIDE JOSEPH WATLE (1803-1879)
Saint Roch, patron saint against contagious diseases who is specially invoked against the plague, is traditionally worshipped in the Saint George’s church. Already in 1384 an altar was devoted to him, and his feast-day was commemorated yearly.
In 1859, when a terrible cholera epidemic ravaged these regions, a fellowship was founded. This was proclaimed a brotherhood a year later. When the beautiful reliquary was donated to our parish, 39 plague saints were added to Saint Roch’s relic. The above-mentioned altar became lost together with the old Saint George’s church.
STATUE OF SAINT GEORGE
17th Century procession statue. It was dressed in the course of time. (Sculptor unknown)
The legend of Saint George, who killed a dragon in Libya because the monster terrorized a town, is not older than the eleventh century. But historical studies indicate that the cult dates back to the third century. Was Saint George a Roman soldier? Did he live in the days of the emperor Diocletian? Was he from the Roman province of Cappadocia? Did he die a martyr in Lydda (Palestine)? All this can’t be confirmed by the scarce sources. Anyhow, his grave in Lydda was worshipped as early as the sixth century. At that time his glorification was already widespread in the east. Centuries later, crusaders took the cult of Saint George to the west.
He became the patron saint of warriors, of military organizations, of orders of knights, and of shooting clubs. Towns, regions and even countries chose Saint George as their patron saint as well. His cult was the most widespread in England, where, in 1348, the Order of the Garter was put under his authority. The shortage of data about Saint George’s identity could be proof of his authenticity. And that’s a subtle, but convincing argument.