Episode 14: Under the Arches

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Have you walked under the arches on the western side of Sint Servaas? Learn more about the fascinating history of the men and women who lived and worked beside them including the Sisters of Charity of Saint Carolus Borromeus!


After its initial use as a Deanery and private residence, the building connected to the Sint Servaas Basilica by the iconic arches we see now was converted into a monastery for the Sisters Charity of Saint Carolus Borromeus also known as the Sisters Under the Arches (Sisters Onder de Bogen). This was a collaborative effort by Paulus Antonius van Baer (pictured left, (c) Wikimedia Commons) and Elisabeth Gruyters (pictured right, (c) Wikimedia Commons).

Above are early images which show the spot we call Under the Arches. In the first (top) the Saint Servaas Basilica and Under the Arches Monastery can be seen from the south (c. 1921 – 1925, (c) RHCL). Below, the Arches are shown in an illustration by Jan Brabant from c. 1860, drawn from the north-eastern perspective ( (c) RHCL).

Above you can see the arches close up with chaplain Paschalis M. Schmeits on the left (c. 1875 – 1895, (c) RHCL). Schmeits was born in Sittard August 21, 1851, and was chaplain at Sint Servatius from 1875 to 1895 ( (c) RHCL).

These four photographs show varying views of the Under the Arches Monastery including the interior. The first image (top left) is a picture postcard from c. 1900 – 1902 showing the west wall of Sint Servaas Basilica and the side of the Monastery of the Sisters Under the Arches ( (c) RHCL).

The second image (top right) shows part of the Under the Arches Monastery complex including a wing of the women’s hospital on the left and the refuge of Herckenrode on the right (c. 1935 – 1945, (c) RHCL).

The third image (bottom left) is a rarer photograph of the interior of the Monastery, showing the refectory in the novitiate building within the complex c. 1925 – 1935 ( (c) RHCL).

The fourth image (bottom right) is a view from the garden of the gazebo on the left and the chapel which was built in 1899 and 1900, designed by the architect J. Kayser (c. 1920 – 1930, (c) RHCL).

These two images show the complex from above. The first (left) is a drafted plan created for the modern renovations and restorations of the complex ( (c) homify.nl). The second (right) is an aerial photograph of the area on 24/06/1963 – you can use the open landscaping area on the right to orient this photograph with the drawing on the left ( (c) RHCL).

As discussed in the podcast, the Sisters Under the Arches were a great service to their community, teaching and assisting in the medical field where possible. In the first photograph above (top left) you can see some of the Sisters who ran the Crèche Juliana in c. 1930 – 1935 ( (c) RHCL). The second photograph (top right) shows a large group of children attending the Carolus Borromeus school for primary education (c. 1930 – 1935, (c) RHCL).

The third picture shows an operating room in Calvariënberg Hospital, a Sister can be seen helping with a potential tooth extraction on the right – trained dentists were still rare at this time (c. 1896, (c) RHCL). The fourth photograph was taken at Kommel 29-33 where a lazaret of the Red Cross was set up with the Sisters of Saint Joseph to take care of the wounded of May 1940 – Sisters Under the Arches were nurses there (25/06/1940, (c) RHCL).

A modern interior view of the Under the Arches chapel as it stood on 23/07/2016 ( (c) Kleon3 via Wikimedia Commons).

If you would like more information about Under the Arches, you can visit the Onder de Bogen website here. If you would like to learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Saint Carolus Borromeus specifically, visit their website here.


As always, if you have something you have always wanted to know about Maastricht or wanted to ask a local, please contact us through social media or our website and we will do our best to answer your questions in future episodes!