Chapelle de la Madeleine or in English The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is one of the oldest churches in Brussels, having been established by the Brothers of Mercy in the 13th century. Excavations carried out when the church was last restored (1956-1958) revealed sub-foundation walls, thereby proving the existence of a much older sanctuary built, it is believed, by the Knights Templar on the foundations of which the present church was initially built.
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene viewed from the side
This small church displays a remarkable unity, thereby enabling it to provide a much-valued place prayer, contemplation and liturgy There is a harmony between the dimensions of the church, the materials used in its construction and the color of the stained-glass windows. At the beginning of the 13th century two aisles were added to the church.This is also the period when the facade with its large stained-glass window was built, as was, it is believed, the small bell tower above the facade.
The external door, which bears the date 1637, is from the baroque period (17th century).The church was on the point of being demolished in the wake of the major urban redevelopment which took place in Brussels from the beginning of the 20th century. The church was abandoned and emptied but was fortunately finally granted a reprieve and fully restored in the period 1956 to 1958, whilst the surrounding area was razed to the ground.
Before entering the chapel take a look at the small statues of St. Mary Magdalene, portrayed wearing medieval dress, and the statue of St. Anne carrying the infant Jesus.
At rue de la Madelaine to take a look at the very fine Baroque facade of the Chapel of St. Anne.
In the course of the restoration work in the 1950s the Chapel of St. Anne, formerly situated in the rue de la Montagne, was rebuilt and attached to the church. The chapel has a baroque facade dating from 1615. This new addition to the church houses a much-visited chapel dedicated to St. Rita Access is via the left aisle of the church.
One glance inside the church is enough to enable you to recognize its harmonious dimensions and atmosphere of peace and contemplation. On looking further, your eyes are drawn towards the sparsely decorated chancel and, in particular, the cross in the center, which serves to remind you that a church is above all a place of prayer. From the cross, your eyes are drawn upwards to the five Gothic stainer-glass windows of the impressive chancel. The overriding image is one of vertical lines, providing a sense of elevation. The chancel seems to advance into the nave and image enhanced by the series of ceiling ribs up to the enormous arch which spans the whole building and seems to divide it. At this point the ribbed ceiling gives way to a flat, oak-panelled ceiling, one of the few to be found in Brussels.
The stained-glass window above the icon depicts the assumption of the Virgin Mary. St. Augustin and St. Monica are depicted to the left and right of the Virgin Mary. These are the main patron saints of the monks of the Order of the Assumption, who have been officiating at the church since 1924. The five stained-glass windows in the chancel depict the story of the redemption, linked. to the life of St. Mary Magdalene.
In the center we see the Cross of Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s sacrifice man is freed of sin (right windows) and the path is opened to the resurrection and the contemplation of the lord (left windows). The stained-glass windows in the aisles depict saints, each of whose name is indicated. Nicholas Pieck (3rd window, bottom left) was known for his preaching, particularly in this church.
He was one of the martyrs of Gorcum (1572) whose shrine is in the Church of St. Nicholas in Brussels. St.julienne of Mont-Cornillon (second window, bottom left) is the saint from Liege who inspired devotion to the Holy Sacrament.
The centre of Services at the church of St. Mary Magdalene
Services given in French
Persons in charge:
Fraternity of the Assumption
Rue des Braves 21
B – 1081 Bruxelles
Tel: (02) 410 29 57
Fax: (02) 410 30 73
Divine Service Mass – Monday to Friday
at 12 noon and 7 p.m.
Mass – Saturday and Sunday
Saturday at 4.30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday at 7.30 a.m., 9.30 a.m.,
10.30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Information and confessions
Every day from 5.30 p.m. to 7p.m.
Every day before evening mass
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Every day from 5.30 p.m. to 6.30
Mass in honor of St. Rita: 10 a.m.
on the first Thursday of every month.