Sanctuary of Saint Gerlach

Welcome to the website of the Sanctuary of Saint Gerlach

The heremite Gerlach of Houthem lived here during the latter part of his life and died here around 1165 AD. His grave forms the center of his worship ever since. Yearly, more than 20.000 people still visit him. Today, the sepulchure church is connected to a modern visitor center with a small museum, exhibition area and the treasury where the church treasures are kept and on display.

The sanctuary receives no additional funding or sponsoring and is entirely run with the help of volunteers. The sanctuary is open to the public and grants visitors free access to enjoy this remarkable cultural and religious heritage.

Gifts are very welcome and deeply appreciated!


Pilgrimís church

Before the French Revolution, the current parochial church of the village of Houthem-St. Gerlach near Valkenburg used to be the church of the former Norbertine abbey, which was founded here in 1201 AD. In 1721 the new church was built on the foundations of its medieval predecessor. It is famous for its fresco paintings (1751) and  southern German Baroque architecture. A combination which is unique for the Netherlands. The church itself nowadays is a pilgrim's church on the road to Santiago de Compostella.


Day chapel and mosaic

The modern day chapel of the sanctuary is there to give visitors the opportunity to spend some time in peace for their prayers and reflections away from the sometimes busy church. In the back of the chapel one finds the famous mosaic of the Gerlach legend, made by the artist Irene van Vlijmen. It depicts all aspects of the life and meaning of Saint Gerlach.


History and archaeology

The small museum of the sanctuary displays items of the site's archaeology as well as its rich history. On the first floor there is an exibition room. Twice a year the theme of the exhibition changes. Mostly the exibition combines the religious background of this location with interesting aspects of local history. The exibition are available to be lend out to other exibitors.


Church treasures

The treasury holds the church treasures of the Saint Gerlach church. It mainly concerns the church silver and relic holders which were donated and kept at this church over the centuries. One of the top pieces of the treasury is the silver bust which holds the skull of Saint Gerlach. Another, very unique piece is a medieval tunic. This religious clothing is made of blue and red silk with delicate embroidery and must have represented a considerable value in its days. The tunic was used in the past to wrap up the bones of Saint Gerlach. After the last restoration of the complex, the bones were lifted from the old chest to be placed in the new bronze holder which can currently  be seen in the church. The tunic was restored and treated against decay and now is one of the oldest pieces of religious clothing in the Netherlands.


Opening hours

The sanctuary of Saint Gerlach is opened to the public daily from 10 am - 4.30 pm (April-Oktober).

Opening hours November - March from 10 am - 4 pm.

During the European Fine Arts Fair in Maastricht (TEFAF), which is normally held in the second half of March, the museum and treasury will be closed due to the KiV (Art in Valkenburg) exibition. The church is accessible for visitors at all time. 

Due to unforeseen circumstances it can occur that you will find the sanctuary closed.


Guided tours

It is possible to book a guided tour with one of our specialist guides. A tour lasts for approximately 1 hour. First you start with an introductory film about the history of the Saint Gerlach estate. Following, you will visit the museum, treasury, exibition, church and day chapel mosaic.

Costs: EUR 3,- p.p. with a minimum of EUR 45,- per group when less than 15 persons attending.

Tours must be booked at least one week in advance.

Attention! It is not allowed for external tour guids to enter the site with organised groups of visitors. If you wish to do so you can contact the curator for the actual agreements and prices on this.



Claar Habets

Norbertinessenhof 1

6301 KM Houthem-St. Gerlach

Tel. 0031- (0)615304492

E-Mail: coordinator@st-gerlach.nl


Copyright © Fons Heijnens 2004-