The Laurenskerk, or Church of St. Lawrence is a protestant church in Rotterdam. It was built between 1449-1525 and is the only remanent of the medieval city of Rotterdam. It is one of a few buildings that survived the Blitz in Rotterdam in 1940 during WWII .
History of the Sint-Laurenskerk
The church is designed by Hendrick de Keyser and built between 1449 and 1525. In 1621 a wooden spire was added to the tower. The poor quality of the church its wood caused the spire to be demolished in 1645. A stone cube was added to the tower. However, it was too heavy for the foundation in 1650. New piles were driven under the tower and in 1655 the tower stood straight again.
The Sint-Laurenskerk was the first all stone building in Rotterdam and many important events took place here. Moreover, the last priest of the Laurenskerk was Hubertus Duifhuis. in 1572 a Reformation took place and the Laurenskerk became a protestant church. Ministers of the church include Laurens Johannes Jacobus van Oosterzee, Abraham Hellenbroek, Jan Scharp and J.R. Callenbach. Callenbach wrote a book about the history of the church a few year before the Rotterdam blitz. Nowadays the church is still used for worship of the Protestant Church.
On may 14, 1940 the Laurenskerk was heavily damaged in the Rotterdam Blitz. At first there were calls to demolish the church, but that was stopped by Queen Wilhelmina. In the provisional National Monuments Commission there were both supporters and opponents for the restoration. In particular, committee member and architect J.J.P. Oud opposed rebuilding in 1950 and presented an alternative plan which would preserve only the tower. This alternative plan was rejected because the restoration of the Laurenskerk was viewed as a symbol of the residence of the Rotterdam community. Queen Juliana laid the foundation stone for the restoration in 1952, which was completed 1968.
A statue of Erasmus can be found in of the Sint-Laurenskerk; this sculpture is the oldest bronze statue in the Netherlands. Built in 1622, this statue is dedicated to Desiderius Erasmus who was a Dutch 15th century humanist and theologian. Hendrick de Keyser probably based his bronze sculpture of Erasmus on portrait paintings and drawings made during Erasmus’ lifetime, including those by Hans Holbein the Younger. These portraits show Erasmus wearing a coat with fur cuffs and collar and a characteristic cap on his head. He is frequently shown with a serious expression, either reading or with his hands on a thick book.
The bronze sculpture is larger than life-size and towers above the viewer because of its two-metre high plinth. His flowing robes suggest that he is walking forwards. His left hand supports the large book he is reading; he turns the page with his right hand.All these elements can be found in the sculpture of the humanist in Rotterdam. Nowadays, many building in Rotterdam are named after him. For Example the Erasmus Bridge and The Erasmus University.