Urban expansion

In 1900 the number of inhabitants of Amsterdam increased to more than 400,000. There was an urgent need for new housing to cater to the increased population. The Indische Buurt (neighbourhood) thanks its existence to the resulting development, and the Gerardus Majellakerk (church) was built for this new neighbourhood’s Catholic inhabitants.

 

Construction of the Majellakerk (church), 1925

New uses

The enormous church was a drain for the parish from the start. The Indische Buurt no longer appealed to the better-off and by the 1930s there were financial problems. The secularisation of society in the 1960s and the changing population composition of the Indische Buurt resulted in decreasing numbers of believers coming to the church. By 1992 the church had to be closed. The interior renovations by Architectenbureau J. van Stigt (architect’s office) turned the building into office space. The central foyer of the building was left open.

 

Interior of the church in 1990, overlooking the high altar

Patron saint

The church’s namesake, Gerardus Majella (1726-1755), grew up in the area of Naples. He was the son of a poor tailor and was known for his supernatural gifts such as miraculous healing, clairvoyance, multiplication of bread and bilocation (the phenomenon of being in two distinct places simultaneously). Majella is the patron saint of tailors, gatekeepers and pregnant women. His statue is on the second cornice above the door of the church.

 

Current interior of the (renovated) church, 2007