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!
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
Day chapel and mosaic
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
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.
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.
sanctuary of Saint Gerlach is opened to the public daily from 10 am - 5
Opening hours January - 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.
to unforeseen circumstances it can occur that you will find the
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.
6301 KM Houthem-St. Gerlach
Tel. 0031- (0)615304492