Friday, September 30, 2005

Our Lord In The Attic

Reading over the last few entries, I realized this journal was a little too much "wandering around and spilling things on himself" and not enough Europe. I´m leaving for Madrid tomorrow, I haven´t even discussed being in Paris, let alone giving an accurate idea of my time in Barcelona, and all you know of Amsterdam is there´s too much dope and not enough Vemeer´s. At this rate of backlog, I´ll be writing about my time in Capri sometime next January.

Something else I discovered upon re-reading: lots of typos, lots of bad grammar. However, I ask your indulgence in that I write these entries in internet cafes with the subsidized clock ticking. I don´t always have time to go back and make corrections. Plus we all know what marijuana does to the brain.

At the risk of sending me back to Amsterdam, Mrs. Collins has asked for more info about the church in the Attic.

Amstelkring Museum
In the 17th century, Catholicism was officially outlawed in Protestant Holland. Jan Hartman, a weathly merchant, bought three adjoining houses, knocked down the walls on the top floors, and converted the space into a secret Catholic church.

In the late 19th century, the space was converted into Amstelkring ("Our Lord in The Attic")Museum, one of the only secret churches still surviving in its original condition.

When I went, I wasn´t expecting much. You walk through the lower levels, and it seems like a typical, tasteful Dutch home. Clever use of space, such as a bed built into a wall (think Scrooge´s bed in a wall, not a Murphy bed). You walk up the stairs to the attic, and I was expecting maybe a long room with an altar at the end. Nope, it´s a fully functioning church, the size of a small sized parrish church, in someone´s attic. The space was three levels: the main level containing pews, and altar, plus two levels of seats and a good-sized organ above.

I guess fellow Catholics "in the know" would come to Hartman´s house Sunday morning, climb up to the attic and find a seat. For a "secret" church, it´s pretty ostentatious. Nothing was spared as far as decorating the altar, the walls or the ceiling. Appearantly, Protestant authorities were fairly tolerant. As long as it wasn´t obviously a Catholic church from the outside, you could do want you want on the inside.

There was also a little confessional built out of a small cupboard, as well as specially built closets for storing items that would normally go in the sachristy.

Expectations aside, it is a neat experience to walk up the stairs of a "normal" house and suddenly be in a small-sized church. It reminds me of when my sister Erin got a cardboard grocery store for Christmas one year. You´d walk into Erin´s room, and there would be a fully functional convenience store/bodega inside. If I remember correctly, she made a lot of money there.


Iva said...

The Church in the attic sounds really neat. Just think, though, there would be no excuse for missing Mass on Sunday. Believe me, if you do find yourself writing about Capri in January, it will only serve to warm you through and through with happy memories.
I love you,

the hanged man said...

Given my contrary nature, I would probably become a die-hard practising Catholic if the religion was outlawed.

It looks like I won't be going to Mallorca after all. But the people who invited me were very nice, and I was flattered by the invitation.


Molly said...

Okay, so scratch the advice I gave you to go to Mallorca. (Note to self: read all the way through b/f offering said advice!)

mrs. collins said...

John- thanks for the description of Our Lord in the Attic. The name has a really homey ring to it but I guess it is a church/house.
Sorry to send you on a Chutes and Ladders of Europe.

the hanged man said...

Whatever Mrs. Collins wants, Mrs. Collins gets...