2960 Sint-Lenaarts (Brecht)
06 July - 30 August
Thu 9.00 - 13.00
Sat 13.00 - 17.00
Sun 13.00 - 17.00
+32 3 660 28 30 (Cultuurcentrum Brecht)
+32 3 313 07 07 (church warden)
Sint-Lenaarts prides itself in her monumental Sint-Leonardus church also called the Cathedral of the heathland because of its exceptional beauty, character and richness. It was built in 1550, by order of count Antoine de Lalaing and Elisabeth van Culembourg, using bricks and white blocks of sandstone. In former days a chapel was already present. Since the 13th century this chapel was frequently visited as a place of pilgrimage alongside the way towards Santiago de Compostella in Spain.
In 1584 the city of Brecht was destroyed due to religious riots. The church was spared and served from 1584 onwards as a safe haven for the local population. The building suffered nevertheless tremendous damage during World War II and was restored during 1946-1953.
The church houses several very valuable art treasures. The two renaissance stained-glass windows (ca. 1535) depicting Saint Leonardus and the resurrection of Christ are of great historical value. The numerous 15th and 16th century statues of saints and the 17th century Belgian bluestone gravestones are also worth a look.
In the back of the church there is a memorial painting dedicated to soldiers fallen in battle. It rests below a mural of Saint Michaël and the dragon.
Inside the Saint-Leonardus church we find a beautifully restored 14th-15th century trunk coffin. This specific style of coffin is very rare, there are only seven left in Flanders. The trunk was crafted from one piece of massive indigenous oak measuring 1,93 meters and weighing over a 100 kilograms. The trunk is protected by sixteen wrought iron belts and six locks. It was used as a safe or an archive suitcase holding bills, records or alderman registers.
On Whit Monday it’s a century old tradition for the procession of Saint-Leonardus to take place in Brecht. Hundreds of actors impersonate tableaus from the life of Jezus from Nazareth, Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint-Leonardus.
Want to know more about the trunk coffin and the procession? There are free brochures available at the Tourists office in Brecht.