Visiting the hamlet of Korsele, near Sint-Maria-Horebeke, Belgium: an interesting, Protestant church in Flanders

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Korsele Protestant Church
Korsele Protestant Church | Source
Korsele Protestant Church
Korsele Protestant Church | Source
Korsele Protestant Church
Korsele Protestant Church | Source
Map location of Horebeke, East Flanders province
Map location of Horebeke, East Flanders province | Source

Building dating from 1872, with 16th century roots

This church building is not remarkable for its size or opulence, but for the fact that it exists at all. It belongs to Belgium's state Protestant church (1).

There were, in fact, in the southern Netherlands of the 16th century many people who responded to the Biblical teachings that Lutherans brought (2); the fact that relatively few Protestants survived is a consequence of the severe repression towards them as a group that the then Spanish authorities pursued, and to the relative proximity of the northern Netherlands, which as a consequence rose in revolt, the de facto independence of which was eventually established de jure also.

But pockets of Protestants did remain in Flanders, in what is now Belgium, despite many hardships. One such surviving handful of Protestants uses this church building, in neo-Gothic style, in the hamlet of Korsele, situated in the municipality of Sint-Maria-Horebeke, East Flanders (Dutch: Oost-Vlaanderen ).

The interior of the edifice is light and simply furnished, with a massive pulpit aligned with the centre of the building. In many Belgian church buildings (most of them Roman Catholic), the pulpit is often situated to the side of the main auditorium, whereas in this Protestant church edifice its centrally aligned location denotes an emphasis on the preaching of the Word (3).

The architect responsible for the building project, which began in 1868 and was completed in 1872, was Ch. Vanderstraeten. Stained glass windows. The building has a tower with a conspicuous, hexagonal spire. Neo-Gothic, pointed window arching is a frequent feature on the structure. The building is now a protected monument.

The area around Korsele is sometimes known as the Geuzenhoek , a term hard to translate, but denoting a 'corner' associated with Protestants in the 16th century who were regularly referred to in derogatory terms, although the term, in context, later lost its derogatory connotation.

Sometimes known as the New Protestant Church (Dutch: Nieuwe protestantse kerk ) in order to distinguish it from an earlier structure, the building is situated at Korsele 39 , Sint-Maria-Horebeke, East Flanders (Dutch: Oost-Vlaanderen ), Flemish regions (Dutch: Vlaams gewest ), Belgium.

February, 11, 2013

Notes

(1) Yes, this may bring another surprise: while Belgians tend to be strongly Roman Catholic, demographically, the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium is not the only church to receive public funding; what is known as the United Protestant Church in Belgium (Dutch: Verenigde Protestantse Kerk in België ; French: Église Protestante Unie de Belgique - VPKB/EPUB ) also receives state support.

(2) Interestingly, Erasmus of Rotterdam, the editor of the Greek New Testament edition used by Lutherans and other Protestants in their Bible translations, lived for a number of years in Anderlecht, Brussels (Dutch: Brussel ; French: Bruxelles ).

(3) Over the entrance is a sign displaying the words: Wy prediken niet ons zelven maar Christus Jezus onzen verlosser ('We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus our redeemer').

Also worth seeing

In Sint-Maria-Horebeke itself, the (Roman Catholic) parish church in Classical style dates from the 18th century; the municipal hall (Dutch: Gemeentehuis ) has a striking, gabled frontage.

Oudenaarde (distance: 9.1 kilometres); its Town Hall is in impressive, 16th century Brabantine Gothic; the Sint-Walburgakerk , dating from 12th to 17th centuries has a tower 88 metres high.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Sint-Maria-Horebeke (distance: 67 kilometres). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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