01 January - 31 December
Mon 9.00 - 18.00
Tue 9.00 - 18.00
Wed 9.00 - 18.00
Thu 9.00 - 18.00
Fri 9.00 - 18.00
Sat 9.00 - 18.00
Sun 9.00 - 18.00
The oldest elements can be dated back to the 12th and 13th century but an even older church from the 9th century, built by the successors of Charles the Great, probably already existed here. These rulers owned the estate called “Haleftra” situated near the present market square. The name Haleftra is thought to be derived from the Germanic word halahdrja meaning juniper bush.
During the religious wars in the 15th century this church was completely destroyed. Reconstruction in late-gothic style started end 15th, beginning 16th century. Only the south transept in local brick shows the older traces of the 13th century structure.
The thorough renovation in 1903 determined the present appearance of the church. The steeple measures 46m in height, two bays were added plus a new west wall and a baptistery. In 1918 retreating German troops demolished the tower which was rebuilt 3 years later, witness the inscription “Destructa 1918, Refecta 1921”.
The same neo-gothic style used in the 1903 renovation was used for the interior of the church, as designed by architect Goethals. There are 12 beautiful neo-gothic stained glass windows in the chancel and side chapels. These were designed by Gust Ladon (10),Ganton-Defoin (1) and Albert Mestdagh (1). The furniture includes a neo-gothic pulpit (1906), a communion rain (1907) and a neogothic main altar and side altars (1907-1909) designed by E. Van den Eynde, an old oak communion rail (1722 – by Fr. Desseyn), 4 oak confessionals, a partly preserved organ cabinet in rococo style (1754 – by P. Van Peteghem), a font (18th century), Stations of the Cross, (paint on copper – 1923-1934) designed by F. Coppejans, a bust of Saint Cornelius (18th century) and coats-of-arms in the chancel.
The north wall contains 18th and 19th century tombs, brought here from the old church yard. Outside the church a cross was erected to commemorate soldiers and civilians who died during the first World War.
Pieter Van Peteghem (Ghent) built this organ in 1754. His family built several organs in the area. It was paid for by the parishioners in Aalter, but mostly by Sabine, sister of the local ruler Maximiliaan van Merode, prince of Rubempré.
This statue on a pedestal is carved in sandstone from Burgundy. St. Peter holds a book with gilded edge in his left hand and gilded keys in the right. For Catholics he was the first pope, for the orthodox he was the first patriarch.
This window was made by Gust Ladon and placed in its frame in 1925. In central position we see the Holy Mary, Mother of Sorrows, with her son dying on the cross. Left is John the apostle carrying a crown of thorns and St. Elisabeth of Hungary. On the right is St. Francis of Assisi, St. Carolus Borromeus and Mary Magdalen.
St. Cornelius, pope and martyr, is the patron saint. Above the St. Cornelius altar (1900) we see the biggest stained glass window in this church, divided in four light streams. In the third stream is St. Cornelius praying to the Holy Trinity to help the many pilgrims: women with children and agricultural workers with cattle.
This marble altar has altarpieces in polychrome wood depicting the healing of a sick woman and the martyrdom of a saint. In the middle we see St. Cornelius as pope with the usual symbols: horn, tiara and the cross pastoral staff.
The four confessionals survived the wars almost intact. This confessional was made by Ludovicus Jacobus Draevers in 1761. It is executed in rococo style with twisted columns and opulent decorations of angels. In the center top is a medallion of St. Peter, the “sinner” in the bible.
This statue was acquired in 1603 and has the usual symbols of the iconography: horn, tiara and cross pastoral staff.