Jan. 30, 2018
Our Lord in the Attic church and museum is a 2-minute walk from the Oude Kerk. “Number 38,” the woman at the Old Church told us. That helped us locate the place.
Inside, we were given headsets in English. First we sat for a short video about the history of Our Lord In the Attic church.
Our Lord In the Attic – a Catholic church built on the top two floors of three adjacent houses, was built after Holland’s break with Spain. Once Catholic Spain was out of Dutch religious life, the Protestants took over – more specifically, the Calvinists – who prohibited Catholicism. But Amsterdam, being a tolerant city (something they pride themselves as being throughout history), turned a blind eye to Catholic churches “hidden” in houses. The government knew perfectly well that Catholics were continuing to worship in home-based churches, but didn’t do anything about it as long as it was officially hidden. Meanwhile, other churches in town that had been Catholic were converted into Protestant churches, which at that time were austere and simple, free of almost all ornamentation. The churches were stripped of their Catholic notions of ornate expressions to glorify God, particularly removing statues which were considered idolatry.
After the video, we took a self-guided tour following arrows and climbing staircases to view and hear about the different rooms in the houses and the kind of people that lived there.
The largest house, with higher ceilings, belonged to the man who commissioned and financed the project. The furnishings in his house were those of a richer person.
In the other houses, the furnishings were quite modest. We could press a button to hear more stories about certain rooms, but I didn’t do that more than once. I was impatient to see the church itself.
The church stretched across the top five floors (including the attics) of the three adjacent houses. Being a rather narrow space, two balconies were built to accommodate more worshippers.
When one entered, there was a basin of holy water built into the wall. (Catholics cross themselves with their fingers dipped in holy water as they enter their church for mass.) Also, there was a Nativity scene (I’d noticed several Christmas decorations around Amsterdam, even though it was almost February.)
By the time I got to the first balcony, Dale was already impatient to leave, saying we were running out of time. It was past noon and we had to have time to have lunch as well as walk to the start of our walking tour. So I never got to the second balcony, nor saw the confessional or the priest’s quarters, because I interrupted the tour by going back the way I’d come. Dale apparently did not do this because he saw all these things. (Many of these photos are his.)
I recommend both Our Lord In the Attic church and the Oude Kerk to be on your itinerary if you visit Amsterdam!