Papendorp (Popesville)

In 1920, the Catholic parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace bought a large plot between Cornelis Troostplein and Van Hilligaertstraat for the construction of a new church with adjoining presbytery, surrounding schools and convents. A proportion of the houses in the area were built by the Catholic housing associations Het Oosten and Amsteldijk and were designed by architects such as the Catholic architect Jan Stuyt. This Catholic enclave was nicknamed Papendorp (roughly: ‘Popesville’).

Rear view of the Vredeskerk (Church of Peace).

Church architects

Jos Bekkers came from a well-known Roman Catholic family of architects and in 1918 he took over his father’s firm. Bekkers’ work is characterized by glazed tiling inside and outside. In addition to the exterior, he also designed elements of the interior of the Vredeskerk, such as the high altar, the communion benches and the pulpit. By Catholic standards, the brick architecture of the interior and exterior are relatively sober.

Interior of Vredeskerk with a view of the choir, transept and pulpit, 2009.

New church movement

Bekkers’ motto, 'See everything on the altar', reflects the developments in Roman Catholic church-building around 1920 and 1930. In contrast to traditional churches, where the large central space is punctuated by pillars, the central space here provided as many churchgoers as possible a clear view of the altar and the service. Although practically no large Catholic families live in the area now, the church is still in full use and, like the neighbourhood, attracts a very international congregation nowadays.

The main altar, 2009