The Jesuit Church on the Oude Langendijk in Delft
Brush and gray ink, 132 x 202 mm
The buildings depicted are, from left to right, a Jesuit school, a small private house, the Jesuit church —with two doors under one roof—and on the extreme right the house where Vermeer presumably lived.
In the time of Vermeer, about a quarter of the population of Delft was Catholic. Some Catholics resided in the so-called "Papenhoek," or Papists' Corner adjacent to the Nieuwe Kerk. The Papist Corner was not a ghetto because many of the families who chose to live there did so by their own free will, and were prosperous. Although Catholics were not actively repressed, they were not altogether free to act as they wished.
According to the research of John Michael Montias, by 1686, the Papist Corner included 15 houses in all. One was the Catholic "hidden" church, as it was called, and another a Jesuit school. The image to the right (f.) shows the Jesuit church in the early eighteenth century. From left to right would be the Jesuit school, a house, the church where two people can be seen standing, and seen partially on the edge of the drawing, the Thins' house, or possibly one just to the right of it, beyond the edge of the drawing.
The new tomb marker for Johannes Vermeer in the Oude Kerk
The Oude Kerk is Delft's oldest parish church. Founded about 1200, it was gradually replaced by a much larger church. The tower, erected between 1325 and 1350, was probably built on a filled-in canal. Throughout the ages, the leaning tower has been the cause of considerable alarm to many an inhabitant.
Vermeer, who was born in Delft, was interred in his mother-in-law's family crypt after his death in 1675 in the Oude Kerk, although the exact location of his grave site has bee lost. Vermeer's generous mother-in-law, Maria Thins, bought a grave in the church in 1661. Even though the church was for Protestant worship, Catholics could also be buried there. Maria Thins may have bought this grave rather than one in her home town Gouda, as it was originally planned in order to avoid the trip to Gouda and save on expenses. Before Vermeer died in 1675, one of his children was buried there on July 10, 1667. Another child had already been buried there some years before. Since the names of the children are not registered, they must have died in their early infancy. According the Oude Kerk registries, Vermeer was buried in 16 December, 1675. The coffin of the last of his children to die was placed on top of his own.
An austere plaque (right h.) in the northern transept opposite the pulpit marks the grave of Johannes Vermeer. Recently, the city of Delft has a new, more "elaborate" tombstone has been added, which can be seen above.
Also buried in the Oude Kerk are:
The tomb of Piet Hein
In 1628, Pieterszoon Hein sailed out to capture the Spanish fleet loaded with silver from their American colonies. Part of this fleet had been warned that Hein had been spotted, but the other half continued its voyage. Twelve Spanish ships were trapped off the Cuban coast in the Bay of Matanzas, and Hein captured about twelve million guilders of booty in silver and other expensive trade goods. He returned to the Netherlands in 1629, where he was hailed as a national hero. Hein’s elegant mausoleum features a marble statue of the naval hero lying on his back. The plinth and statue were sculpted from a single block of marble. This sculpture rests on a pedestal of black marble.
The tomb of Maarten Tromp
An elaborate and elegant mausoleum was erected at the northern side of the church in remembrance of Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp, the highly decorated Dutch admiral who heroically died in battle. In 1639, during the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain, Tromp defeated a large Spanish fleet bound for Flanders at the Battle of the Downs, marking the end of Spanish naval power. In a preliminary battle, the Action of 18 September 1639. Tromp was the first fleet commander known to deliberately use line of battle tactics. His flagship in this period was the Aemilia. The death of Tromp was not only a severe blow to the Dutch navy, but also to the Orangists who sought the defeat of the Commonwealth of England and restoration of the Stuart monarchy.
Anthony van Leeuwenhoek
The memorial and rave of the Delft physicist and inventor of the microscope Anthony van Leeuwenhoek is in the tower wall, on the side of the northern aisle.
Churches and religion in Delft
The Nieuwe Kerk and the Oude Kerk were originally built as Catholic churches. The former was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Ursula, while the latter was dedicated to Saint Bartholomew and Saint Hippolytus. All this was changed by the Reformation, the sixteenth-century reform movement in Christianity. Calvinism, named after the Swiss reformer John Calvin, became the most important Protestant denomination in the Northern Netherlands. Calvin's followers did not accept the teachings of the Catholic church as the guideline for their lives, but lived by the words of the Bible. The resulting religious strife was a major factor in the Eighty Years War.
a Delft bakery decorated with
the tower of the Oude Kerk
At the conclusion of this War the Reformed Church became the national church of the Dutch Republic. AlI churches, including the SS. Bartholomew & Hippolytus [Oude Kerk] and the SS. Mary & Ursula [Nieuwe Kerk], became the property of the Reformed Church. Catholics did enjoy religious liberties, but were not allowed to express their faith in public, which is why they built clandestine churches.
Whole families were split by the Reformation. Part of the prominent patrician Van der Dussen family, far example, remained true to the teachings of the Catholic Church, while the majority, those who aimed far public office, converted to the Reformed Church.
"The Most beautiful and Loveliest Town of Holland: A Visit to Delft in the Seventeenth Century." in The Public and the Private in the Age of Vermeer, Osaka, 2000, pp.26-27