Restauratie OLV Presentatie kerk - klein begijnhof

De gevel, de toren en het dak van de Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Presentatiekerk in het Klein Begijnhof krijgen een opfrisbeurt.


Project in ’t kort

In uitvoering
  • Publieke gebouwen
  • Erfgoed

Twee fasen

De restauratie van de Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Presentatiekerk in het Klein Begijnhof is hoognodig. Kleine brokstukjes vallen van de gevels en het dak is op sommige plaatsen in slechte staat. De werken worden uitgevoerd in twee fases.

  • Fase 1 (start september 2023 - einde zomer 2024) : De restauratie van het schip, de toren en de voorgevel.
  • Fase 2 (start zomer 2024 - einde zomer 2025): De restauratie van de zijbeuken.

Zowel het Begijnhof als de kerk blijven tijdens de werken toegankelijk. 

Hoewel we de hinder van onze projecten steeds tot een minimum proberen te houden, gaan werven steeds gepaard met geluidshinder. Toekomende (vracht)wagens, opbouwen van stellingen, boren, slijpen, timmeren,... geven steevast geluidsoverlast, die op sommige momenten best luid kan zijn.

We zorgen ervoor dat er niet gewerkt wordt op zater-, zon- en feestdagen. De werkmannen starten op rond 7 uur 's ochtends, en eindigen tussen 17 en 18 uur 's avonds.


Tijdens de werken wordt er extra rekening gehouden met de gierzwaluwen die er in de lente en zomer komen broeden.

Het is geen toeval dat we de werken na de zomer opstarten. De broedperiode van de gierzwaluwen is dan immers achter de rug, dus kan de aannemer ongestoord zijn gang gaan. De bij wet beschermde vogels zijn redelijk honkvast, en keren elk jaar naar hetzelfde nest terug om te broeden.

Daarom wordt er tijdens de werken altijd gezorgd dat de doorgang naar de kieren en spleten bij de dakgoten vrij blijft. Als de gierzwaluwen terugkomen, moeten ze makkelijk naar hun broedplek kunnen. Bovendien vinden er tijdens de broedperiode zelf geen werken aan de dakgoten plaats. In de nieuwe dakgoten worden ook om de twee meter gaten geboord om het de vogels extra makkelijk te maken.


English version - Beguines

Absurd. These so-called beguines are not religious at all. They promise obedience to no one, do not renounce their possessions and do not observe an approved monastic rule. Some of them even argue and preach about the Holy Trinity, thus confusing simple people." In these terms, the Council of Vienne (1311) condemned the Beguines.

But a little further on, in the decisions of the same council, we read that "of course there is no problem with pious women who live together honorably in their hospices, in a spirit of penance and mortification." So the beguinages could continue to exist after all. With great difficulty and after thorough scrutiny, admittedly. And so it is that you can still visit this place.

Beguinages are a phenomenon of the Low Countries. These small towns for women were often founded with the support of the local nobility. Here in Ghent, in the 13th century, these were the Countesses of Flanders, Johanna and Margaret of Constantinople.

It remains a unique phenomenon: women living between two worlds. Not nuns, because they make no eternal vows, but promise only to be obedient to the statutes of the court and to live in chastity as long as they live there. And there is no vow of poverty. Quite a few women even have their own homes.

After a tumultuous history, the movement comes to an end in 2013, when the very last beguine, Marcella Pattyn, dies.

Mystic Marguerite

At the beginning of the 14th century, a book was publicly burned in the market of Valenciennes. It was written by a beguine, Marguerite Porète. It was called Le miroir des âmes simples et anéanties.

It was a "heretical" book and therefore it had to disappear. Marguerite was not allowed to continue working on it and certainly not to preach about it. But she did so anyway. "I have said goodbye to virtues," she wrote, "Love draws me so high. I think nothing more. Work no more. Speak no more." On June 1, 1310, Marguerite herself was burned at the stake in Paris.

But her book survived. In the 20th century, it was discovered that several copies of it still existed and had even been translated. Perhaps also in Middle Dutch? Perhaps the beguines of this beguinage kept one in their library. A book about hoe haer een siele naect zal hauden an Gode. 


Caring sisterhood

The Beguine community was sustained by a caring sisterhood. Women from different backgrounds and with various talents lived there together and supported each other. Some beguines had their own house, others lived with two or three. But there was also a place for less gifted women, in a community house, the convent. And for those who were sick or really struggling, there was the infirmary.

They took care of children and taught them to read and write. They also went outside the court to visit the sick, or watch over the dead. And somewhere we read in a will that the future occupants of the house they inherited must always make sure that a bed is also ready for vremden arme beghinen. 

Free-spirited women

In the 13th century, our society changes. From the countryside, young people move to the city to choose a life of their own, something much more difficult for women than for men. But they decide to do something about it and found their own cities. In the beguinage, you can choose your own path. You can become an accountant, a porter or a teacher. Or maybe even, who knows, grand miss? What was possible here, living in freedom and taking your own responsibility, was not possible anywhere else at that time.

It is striking that the beguine movement did not fall victim to persecution or violence. Accusations of heresy, religious disputes, theft of their patrimony, war - they survived it all. But then suddenly things move very quickly. Only a handful of beguines make it to the 21st century. Perhaps one could say that the beguine movement has made itself obsolete. Once started as a truly revolutionary movement that, alone, gave women a chance at their own independent existence, it was overtaken by time in the 20th century. Women today are allowed to live their own lives and have careers. We can only be grateful to them, those proud, stubborn women.


Silent city?

You step through the gate and return in time. To silence, to tranquility. Back to the Middle Ages. Nice. Only it's not right. None of the buildings in this beguinage are older than the 17th century. Not even the church.

The 17th century is the last great flowering period of the beguine movement. People discovered a new patron saint, Begga. There is the unenviable support of Archduchess Isabella. And there is money. Everywhere there is renovation and expansion. The 'small beguinage' of Ghent cannot stay behind. Houses and convents are added. And a new church was built. The first stone was laid in 1657 - the last only in 1720. At the final completion, Grand Mistress Van Hoorebeke gets into trouble with the church authorities. She opted for the style of the time: baroque. "Far too showy," it is shouted. "Het ghehele batiment zoude mismaeckt ende bedorven zin." But the grand dame stands her ground and makes it home. There will be a baroque church, just as she wanted.

That church is now being restored. Just as she would have wanted it.