History
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The building plans were drawn up by members of the order itself, for example Fr. d'Aguilon en P. Huyssens. The construction took only six years (1615-1621). The patron saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the order whose canonisation was richly celebrated with fantastic processions, colourful street decorations and exuberantly plays. At the (almost incomprehensible) abolition of the order in 1773 its possessions were confiscated and publicly sold. For the new function of the church, for example religious instruction, the church received a new patron saint: Charles Borromeo (of Milan). By the concordat with Napoleon (1803) it became an autonomous parish church.

 

The whole layout of the harmonious Hendrik Conscience square, in fact a realisation of the Jesuit fathers. In the beginning they had a college for secondary education - then very rare. It moved to the Prinsstraat, now the Jesuit University (UFSIA). As the conventual buildings were built around the square with a public character (for which the whole street was demolished!) it became a truly unique urbanistic intervention in the old medieval city layout.

 

The interior of the church meant to be a Baroque Banqueting Hall. The idea being to give a small foretaste of heavenly joys celebrating with God! Enormous sums of money were spent on its decoration. It was not for nothing the Jesuit Church was named the "marble temple". That this church is really picturesque can be seen from the numerous preserved interior views of the 17th century. But July 18, 1718 marks a black page in the diary of the church: Lightning struck... followed by more disaster. No less than 39 ceiling paintings by Rubens went up in flames. The more sober reconstruction of the basilica of pillars was entrusted to J. P. Van Baurscheit, sr. During the restoration of the 1980's an effort was made to reproduce the original interior - before 1718 - especially in the imitation of marble.








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