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Temse is known for being the first municipality of the Pays de Waas, Christianised by Saint Amalberga. The Gothic church of Notre-Dame was built in 1645 on the foundations of the chapel of Saint Amalberga (770). Since the 13th century, a pilgrimage dedicated to Saint Amalberga has been leading pilgrims to Temse.
Inside the church, a tomb was erected for this saint in 1841. In the right transept another tomb dating from the 16th century is formed from two recumbent figures, one of them the knight Lefever, benefactor of Temse.
A communion rail, Baroque wooden panelling and several pieces in wrought metal from the 18th century, works of the local sculptors Adriaan and Philip Nys, give the Church of Our Lady an appearance of tranquil strength and of reverence.
The dome-shaped bell tower of the church is visible from the other bank of the Scheldt River. The church and the tower of the town hall make Temse one of the most beautiful small cities in the region. At night the church is fully illuminated. This gives a note of enchantment to the whole.
To complete this description, let us cite two more monuments that are significant to the inhabitants of Temse: the one, religious, was erected in front of the church in memory of the priest Edward Poppe following his beatification; the other, mischievous, located in front of the library, represents Jommeke, a comic book character known throughout Flanders.
This baroque pulpit in (waxed) oak can be described in an inverted truncated pyramid with a height of 4.15 m on a strongly profiled and serrated base with a globe on which the diagonally suitable image of St. Amelberga rests in royal robe with sceptre, embracing the cross, with the periwinkle carried by an angel and at her foot the legendary sturgeon. The 4 evangelists surround her: the lion, the bull, while the angel and the eagle support the tub.
The straight staircase with lavishly decorated banisters begins with the stair styles formed by the statues of Moses and John the Baptist. The strongly profiled and carved tub is decorated with 3 medallions of the holy family. The spacious soundboard, carried by 2 angels, has the shape of a four-axle whose lobes are decorated with two angels and the snails with abundant horns.
The whole is a full-bodied Baroque product that, through its construction and decoration, challenges the laws of gravity. The cabinetwork is by Jose de Lamotte, the sculpture of Egidius Adrianus Nijs, born in Antwerp on 6 June 1683 and died in Temse on 21 April 1771. He was a pupil of Andries van den Base and Hendrik-Frans Verbrugghen. He married on February 6, 1707 with Johanna-Catherina van der Beke who died on November 15, 1726.
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The choir stalls in (waxed) oak against the northern and southern church walls were originally located in the middle choir. They consist of a first part with rectangular flat ground with 10 seats, a door panel and a part with a continuous circular bench. The height of the stele is 3.83 m, the depth 1.52 m and the total length including the door in the middle, 12.59 m.
The rectangular sections date from 1710-1712, the cabinetwork is by the Judocus brothers and Egidius De Cauwer, the sculpture by Egidius Adrianus Nijs and the style is baroque. The circular benches date from 1764-1766, the cabinetwork is by the De Cauwer brothers, the sculpture was designed by Philip Nijs but was executed by Cornelius van Daele.
The back panels are alternately made up of herms and medallions. The abundant decorations with floral motifs are for the straight part in Baroque style and for the curved part in Rococo style. The iconography of statues and medallions was determined by the Oratorians, in particular by Father Gillis Smet, pastor and orderer of the stalls. The sumptuous decorations, medallions and statues are by the above-mentioned sculptors.
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This confessional in the northern aisle is one of two baroque confessionals made between 1714 and 1716, of which the joinery was made by Matheus de Bock and the sculpture by Egidius Adrianus Nijs. It is of the open type and has a segmented arched cornice. In the front are the life-sized allegorical statues of the "Meditatio" and the "Penitentia". The back is closed by the herbes statues "Timor Dei" and "Humilitas". In the centre of the back panel is Veronica's sweat cloth, with a medallion on the left and right with the bust of a man and a woman. In the central arch is the medallion with the bust of the evangelist John, carried by an eagle.
On the cornice the garlands are worn by two angels. The confessional has a height of 4.27 m, a width of 3.23 m and a depth of 1.36 m. The whole is made of (waxed) oak.
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The tomb of knight Roeland Lefèvre and his wife dates from 1517. It is an alcove with a height of 3.65 m and a depth of 1.45 m in late Gothic and early Renaissance style, executed in Tournai limestone, touchstone and sandstone and according to the style attributable to Jan Van Roome, alias Van Brussel.
Roeland Lefevre was after St. Amelberga (690-772) the first secular lord and great benefactor of Temse. He died in Middelburg on 30 September 1517 and his wife Hadewigis van Heemstede died on 22 December 1517. Both lie on the cover of the tomb (h. 1.27 m x 2.34 m and depth 1.45 m), Roeland in armour and coat of arms, Hadewigis in a pleated cloak.
The stained-glass window," St. Amelberga crosses the Scheldt", is one of 16 neo-Gothic stained-glass windows (width about 2.10 m and height about 7.80 m) in the 3 choirs of the church. They represent the life of Our Lady, patroness of the church, the life of Christ and the life of St. Amelberga (690-772), patroness of Temse. The neo-Gothic tracery is indebted to the English Gothic style. The stained-glass windows were designed and executed between 1888 and 1904 by the stained-glass workshop "Bethune Jean-Baptist (1821-1894) - Verhaeghen Arthur (1847-1917)", both co-founders of the Saint-Lucas schools.
Mathias Zens, sculptor (Gransdorf near Trier 1838 - Ghent 1921). This Ghent-German worked in Ghent with a workshop of 56 men. He worked in the church of Temse between 1888 and 1904 : 3 altars with polychromed altarpieces, 3 neo-gothic confessionals and the oak panelling in the lower church, 14 wooden polychromed life-sized column statues, the polychromed plaster 15-part Stations of the Cross.
Francis Xavier (April 7, 1506 - December 3, 1552) was one of the first Jesuits, a missionary in several Asian countries. He died in China on December 3, 1552. The 1.70 m statue bears witness to a refined neo-Gothic design and is finished with a comb-technical polychromy and gold paint.
The baptismal font stands next to the western draught portal. It is made of bluestone, 1.22 m high, with a basin diameter of 0.84 m and a 0.56 m profiled base. The style is Renaissance: the column and basin are decorated with grunts and knobs polished along with the basin edge and base.
On either side of the basin, two coats of arms are chiselled and polished: one of the Verstraeten family and the other in diamond form of the Verstraeten-Moenis families, whose members were buried in the church in 1616.
This 17th century painting is a triptych on wood with scenes from the life of St. Amelberga (°Rodange 690 - †Temse 772), patroness of Temse. The middle panel measures 2.20 m x 1.85 m, the side panels each 2.20 m x 0.90 m. The middle panel represents Amelberga, which is raided at Mater by Charles Martel (photo), the left side panel represents Charles Martel looking for Amelberga, the right side panel represents St. Amelberga with St. Landrada and St. Willibrord. Despite the numerous overpaintings, the painting shows the influence of Caravaggio through its contrasting light treatment. The work is attributed to Jean-Baptist De Saive (Sayve) (°Names 1540 - †Mechelen 1624).
Religious heritage around Temse-Hamme. Welcome to the land of trousers, mud flats and salt marshes. The rivers Durme and Scheldt have proven to be a blessing, but just as often a curse! Floods were commonplace. The Church and abbeys often acted as protectors.