St Martins Cathedral & Monastery, Ieper
In the choir, separated by a window from the remainder of the cathedral, are two tombs which deserve the attention of the visitor.
On the ground is beautiful tomb stone representing Robert of Bethune who was count of Flanders from 1305 till 1322. He is the famous “Lion of Flanders - De Leeuw van Vlaanderen” of the historical novel (1838) of Hendrik Conscience.
The author made a serious historical error because Robert of Bethune was not present at the battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302!
He died indeed in Ypres.
A few steps away one can see on the ground a small stone with the year 1638 engraved. This stone recalls the year of dead of Cornelius Jansenius, very discussed theologian who teached at the University of Louvain from 1617 till 1636, year when he was sacred seventh bishop of Ypres with the support of the King of Spain who ruled at that time Flanders.
His best known theological work the “Augustinus” was published in 1640, after his death, and led to the “Jansenism” which caused great upheaval in the Catholic Church during the 17th century and particularly in France where Louis XIV opposed himself violently to what was regarded as a heresy. The history of Port-Royal is the most known episode.
A very small tomb stone but of great effects.
Dans le chœur, séparé par une vitre du reste de la cathédrale, se trouvent deux tombes qui méritent l'attention du visiteur.
Il y a au sol une grande et belle pierre tombale représentant Robert de Béthune qui fut comte de Flandre de 1305 à 1322. C'est lui le célèbre "Lion des Flandres - De Leeuw van Vlaanderen" du roman historique (1838) de Hendrik Conscience. Les historiens savent que Robert de Béthune n'était pas présent à la bataille des Eperons d'Or de 1302 mais qu'il mourut à Ypres.
Dans le même chœur se trouve au sol une petite pierre avec l'année 1638. Elle rappelle l'année de la mort de Cornelius Jansenius, très controversé théologien qui enseigna à l'Université de Louvain de 1617 à 1636, année où il fut sacré septième évêque d'Ypres avec l'appui du roi d'Espagne.
Son ouvrage théologique le plus connu "Augustinus" fut édité en 1640 après sa mort.
Le "Jansénisme" suscita de grand remous au sein de l'Eglise Catholique pendant le 17e siècle et particulièrement en France où Louis XIV s'opposa violemment à ce qui était considéré comme une hérésie. L'histoire de Port-Royal en est l'épisode le plus connu.
Une toute petite pierre tombale mais de grands effets.
It is difficult to imagine today that this cathedral which has a very beautiful aspect, was entirely rebuilt after the end of WW I. I was very impressed by the elegance and great dimensions of the nave as one discovers it from the entry (photo 1).
Others described here this Episcopal church of Gothic style which goes back to the 13th century. I will not add more comments but I would like to highlight the remarkable reconstruction work completed by the architect Jules Coomans.
If you examine the aerial photograph (n° 2) taken in 1917 you will note the quasi-total destruction of the St Maartens Cathedral.
It happened by chance that the architect Jules Coomans who lived in Ypres before the war had carried out some restorations to the cathedral. When he fled the town, bombed by German artillery, he took the blueprints with him and thus had the exact data of the building in his state of 1914. He raised the bell-tower, something that had been planned before the war (photo 3).
Il est difficile aujourd'hui d'imaginer que cette cathédrale qui a fort belle allure, a été entièrement reconstruite à la fin de la guerre 1914-18. J'ai été très impressionné par l'élégance et les grandes dimensions de la nef tel qu'on la découvre depuis le porche (photo 1).
D'autres ont décrit ici cette église épiscopale de style gothique qui remonte au 13e siècle. Je ne reviendrai pas là-dessus mais j'aimerais mettre en évidence le remarquable travail de reconstruction à l'identique réalisé par l'architecte Jules Coomans.
Si vous examinez la photo aérienne (n° 2) prise en 1917 vous constaterez la destruction quasi-totale de l'église.
Il se fait que Coomans, qui habitait Ypres, avait avant la guerre effectué des restaurations à la cathédrale. Lorsqu'il fuit la ville bombardée par l'artillerie allemande il emporta les plans ainsi que le métré; il disposa ainsi des données exactes de l'édifice dans son état de 1914. Il rehaussa cependant le clocher (photo 3).
At the back side of Cloth Hall we visited the huge Saint Martin’s cathedral(Sint-Maarten En Sint-Niklaas). It’s a big roman catholic church, 102 meters tall, one of the tallest buildings in Belgium.
It was built between 1230 and 1370 in gothic style on the site of an old Romanesque church that dated from 10th century. This huge cathedral was part of a monastery until 16th century.
The amazing thing about is that it was totally destroyed during WWI but it was rebuilt in 8 years (1922-1930) like it was before, at least the exterior.
Then we went inside but we didn’t really get excited (I mean we have seen much more impressive interiors) but we enjoyed some interesting things here, paintings, sculptures, tombs of bishops and a beautiful huge rose window (pic 3) that was given by British Royal Air after the war.
Pic 4 shows something that it's impossible to see in an orthodox cathedral :)
Is the 10.2.1940 classified. The tower is 102 m high and rebuild in 1922-30 (Arch. Cooman ,Ieper) It's a faithful rebuild from the 13 th cent. gotic church. Only the top of the tower was addid.
During the restauration in 19 th cent was the gate on the south side change and where 3 gates made as the french cathedraal example. But after WWI is rebuild in the first form.
Next to the now-a-days theatre of Ieper is still a silent remember of the original purpose of this building. This is the monastry gate of the former Sint Maartens (Saint Martins). The original dated back to 1500, but it was not long belonging to this name. Already in 1560 the monastry was closed as Ieper became the seat of a Bishop. In 1780 it was remodelled in classic style and after the destruction in WW1 this copy came back again in 1938.
The Saint Martin's Cathedral is an impressive church. Like the Lakenhal is has completely destroyed in the first World War and rebuilded with great care using original stones as much as possible.
In the Monastry garden at the North side of the church there still are many original stones left and restauration is a continuous activity.
Around the corner following the ship of the Cathedral we will find the Ieper theatre (stadsschouwburg). This however used to be a monastry's "bar", called Capitel Bibael. The monastery of Saint Maarten however made place for the newer and restyled in neo-gothic and neo-renaissance as being the theatre and concerthall. A part is still reminding of the bar. It's the inn that is also in the same building: the Parnassushof.
The tower of Saint Martin's cathedral is - together with the Belfort - the most destinguised sign from a distance surrounding Ieper. From a far one can recognise both, but especially the highest: the cathedral's tower, rising almost a hundred meters in the air. The wonderful fine decorations of the Gothic style are a lust for the eyes and one can gaze over the cathedral's wings for hours and still discover new items.
Inside the cathedral there is an enormous collection of historical treasures to be seen. Besides the dazzling colours that the light throws in through the beautiful fglas-in-lead windows there are significant gravestones. One is from the knight Robrecht van Bethune, the Lion of Flanders. Also two of the most (in)famous bishops are burried in the cathedral: Martinus Bauwens (1561-1583) and Cornelius Jansenius (1585-1638). seeing this cathedral only from the outside is great, but one should take some extra time and discover the wonders inside. The website I mention states every detail of it and is made by an Ieper-fanatic and citizen.
In 1559 Ieper was proclaimed a Bisdom and ruled relgiously over a large part of Southern Flanders as well as Northern France. Filips the second of Spain was behind this nomination and he also initiated the building of a new cathedral in Ieper. For more then 200 years Ieper had it's bishop (18 to be precise). Already in the year 1000 there was a church on this place which was later reconstructed bigger and in a differnt style (first Romanic, later Gothic). Only in the last century there were plans to built the cathedral as you see it now, however the first worldwar made an abrupt ending to the work at hand. Luckely architect Cooman flea and took the plans with him to later return and erect the masterpiece as you see it now. The Saint Martin's Cathedral.
Saint Martins cathedral is a former Episcopal church in Gothic style and it was reconstructed after the first world war.
It has a beautiful side altar with an altarpiece and the miracle statue of Our Lady of Thuyne.
This cathedral was till 1500AC a monastry, during the grand war completely destroyed, so the original, mainly wooden construction like the roof and the pullpit are vanished
The rebuilding started in 1922 and finished in 1930. So it took about 8 years - the original cathedral was builded in the middleages - and that took 2 centuries
Inside you will find the memorials and thombs of 18 bishops
The stainless glass symbolises some Apostels and evangelists. The outer circle some weapon shields of the British Army divisions who defended Ieper during the great war.
Another pictue in this frame and located near the cathedral : "The Lapidarium"
Damaged thombstones and sculptures - a previous palace the monks builded besides the Cath.- also completely destroyed during the grand war but never rebuilded.
This lovely Cathedral is nice outside and inside.
During WW1, it was destroyed, but was rebuilt using many of the original material from the first Cathedral. Spread all over the Cathedral are decorations from different times which survived the destruction. Inside at the back of the Altar, were photo's of the Cathedral in ruins and being rebuilt. I saw the grave of bishop Cornelius Jansen, better known as 'Jansenius', who was condemned as a heretic when he published his new philosophical ideas in his book "Augustinus" in 1638.
On a wall under the organ in the north transept, was a memorial to all the British and British Empire soldiers who died in World War I. This is one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s "cathedral tablets" placed in cathedrals in cathedral towns in France and Belgium where British troops were stationed in World War I.
The entire cathedral was lost due to bombing in the Great War. But it was rebuilt in the same style as the original 13th century one.
In the building you can find the graves of bishop Jansenius and Count Robrecht van Bethune, the "Leeuw van Vlaanderen"(lion of flanders).
The tower is 100 m high and not open to the public.
Entrance is free except during Mass.
It is certainly worth to visit the interior of the St Martin's Cathedral.
This Cathedral can be visited when there are no services and it is also closed from 12.30 till 14.00.
Unfortunately, there was wedding ceremony going on when we passed there during the VT-meeting of April 21st.
Below the Anneesens - organ there is a remembrance plate to commemorate the 1 (one) Million British soldiers which died during this terrible Great War.
At the south side there is a "rosace" - a sixteen angular stain glass window, given by the British, in order to remember their fallen soldiers and it was designed by Miss Geddes.
A Mural remembers the fallen French soldiers on the left side near the portal.