Saint Paul’s, the Antwerp Dominican church, a revelation
The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament
and of the Sweet Name of Jesus
Further decoration for the devotion
to the Holy Sacrament
The sculpture “The scourged Christ”
(Cornelius Struyf, ca. 1740/43)
Cornelius Struyf seems to have been an early member of the brotherhood of the ‘Sweet name of Jesus’ and was buried in this church. The life-size sculpture in white Carrara marble (ca. 1740-1743), which contrasts with the black marble frame, must be seen as a late Baroque counterpart of Rosa of Lima (Artus II Quellinus, ca. 1660-1670).
After he had been scourged, Jesus was mocked as ‘King of the Jews’ (Mc. 15:16-20), and for this occasion he was given ‘royal attributes’. The cane (with reed mace) with which he was hit on the head, has been given to him by the soldiers as a sceptre in his tied wrists. On his head a crown of thorns has been put, but the purple mantle is not to be seen. He only wears a loincloth. Jesus barely leans against the short baluster, to which according to tradition he was pinioned during the flogging. The suffering of the ‘humiliated Jesus’, as is mentioned in the caption, especially speaks from the resigned expression of the face; His impotence all the more from the cuffed wrists. The quiet rendering of the draped waistcloth also contributes to a subtle sensitivity. However true to life the representation of the body may be, there is a lack of twitched muscle tension suggesting pain.
In 1908 in its turn this statue was given a counterpart, to the right of the Holy Sacrament Altar. The neo Baroque pillar statue by Jan Gerrits testifies of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, which is so typical of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. On the marble console Reverend Father Georges Van Alcken has been honoured with a portrait in bas-relief, because he had been assistant priest of the parish for sixty years.
Painting “Supper at Emmaus”
(Erasmus Quellinus, 1703)
In 1803, after the concordat between Pius VII and Napoleon, the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and the Brotherhood of the Fortnightly Last Rites were transferred from the former parish church Saint Walpurga’s to the new parish church Saint Paul’s. Due to lack of a better place they hung their altarpiece of The Supper at Emmaus, attributed to Erasmus Quellinus (1703) high up against the wall of their new chapel.
Maybe they brought the late 18th century tabernacle along too. It contains a revolving drum on which also the scene of the supper at Emmaus is to be seen, at the moment the disciples recognize Jesus at breaking the bread. It more looks like a scene in a polychrome wooden doll’s house. As permanent acolytes two angels flank the Sacrament with swaying censers.
The pews of ‘the Sweet Name of Jesus’
(Jean de Jupploye and workshop, 1635-1651)
Within the brotherhood of the Sweet Name of Jesus arose a separate division of ‘the Bachelors’. In 1635 they commissioned early Baroque pews and panelling at Jean de Jupploye. After his death the work was continued by i.a. Erasmus Quellinus, but it was only finished in 1651 (by Peter I Verbruggen and Artus I Quellinus). It was partly moved to the opposite Northern transept in 1833 and at this occasion the seats were removed. The cartouches and friezes have been decorated full of fantasy, which invites being explored thoroughly at the spot.
The group of statues of ‘the Sweet Name of Jesus’
with the Holy Family
(Artus I Quellinus, 1644)
Because on the altarpiece only the devotion for the Holy Sacrament was represented, they wanted to stimulate the devotion for the Sweet Name of Jesus with a separate group of statues against the neighbouring first pillar of the Southern transept. Artus I Quellinus realized this commission in 1644. It is striking how elegantly and delicately the hands and faces have been sculpted and how most plastically the abundant draping of clothes has been worked out. In the centre there is the blessing child Jesus. Mary helps him carry the globe, which is still too big for him. To fortify the commitment of the two persons who flank the infant Jesus, Quellinus has put these adults lower. To Jesus’ right there is a middle-aged man, his foster father Joseph. To His left there is Anna, His grandmother. A few angels crown the Saviour properly with a laurel wreath, as a sign of victory over evil.
The group of statues of Saint Hyacinth
(Sebastiaan de Neve, 1649
The Dominican Hyacinth saved the Holy Sacrament and a statue of Our Lady, not without risk. Quite exceptionally for Counter Reformation times he is not holding a monstrance but a ciborium. Our Lady as an attribute is used by Sebastiaan de Neve (1649) to present the saint to the infant Jesus.