Discovering with Pieter-Jan

Since the beginning of this year, 28-year-old Pieter-Jan van Giersbergen has been strengthening the collection team of Our Lord in the Attic Museum as assistant curator. With his master’s degree in Religious Studies in his pocket, he dives into the museum’s collection three days a week. One of the projects Pieter-Jan is involved in is mapping (literally) Amsterdam’s Catholic heritage. Many objects from former Catholic (hidden) churches have ended up in the collection of Our Lord in the Attic Museum. They are therefore no longer in their original context and are more or less orphaned. In a multi-year project, the collection team is working on research into the original context in which the objects functioned. In this way the objects get a relationship with places in the city and they can tell stories about Amsterdam’s Catholic past and present.

[Het verhaal gaat verder onder de afbeelding.]

Photo by: Rebekka Mell

The Monstrance and the Miracle of Amsterdam
A good example of this is an early eighteenth-century monstrance – a holder in which the consecrated host is displayed – that the museum has on loan from the Saint Caecilia Collegiate. In his research, Pieter-Jan discovered that the monstrance was made for a small private chapel in the Kalverstraat. Why is the museum particularly interested in this monstrance? The object tells the story of the Miracle of Amsterdam; a miracle that took place in the 14th century. Tradition speaks of a dying man, living in the Kalverstraat, who is administered Holy Communion. Then, when he has to vomit up the consecrated host, the vomit is thrown into the fire. Later the host is found intact in the ashes and it is taken to the pastor of the Oude Kerk. The next day the host is miraculously back in the hearth of the house in the Kalverstraat. We will explain in detail how this story relates to the monstrance of the museum at a later date. Though you might guess it?

[Het verhaal gaat verder onder de afbeelding.]

Monstrance Depicting the Miracle of the City of Amsterdam. JA Le Pies, ca. 1700-1735

The importance of religious heritage
Pieter-Jan investigates the hidden stories of Amsterdam’s Catholic heritage, thereby making an accessible part of the city’s religious history. It will be a fun journey through our collection, archives and the city. These are also interesting stories for those who were not raised religiously. Pieter-Jan: “There is a lot of misunderstanding about religion in our society, especially Christianity. I think that deepening is necessary in order to be able to put things into perspective in the conversation. Religion is not all good or bad. It is about a phenomenon that plays a role all over the world and right through history. It would be valuable for everyone to learn more about this.”

Pieter-Jan’s discoveries will soon be shared with the readers of ‘t Haantje.

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