Picture: the robust tower of the Saint Quintenschurch of Oostkerke.  

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Saint-Quintenschurch of Oostkerke

Location: Sint-Kwintensstraat, 8340 Oostkerke [gps]
Accessibility: freely accessible

The Saint-Quintenschurch with her sturdy, flat tower is the landmark of the village.  Around 1100 there was already a church here in Romanesque style.  In 1159, the relics of Saint Guthago were here placed in a shrine by the bishop of Tournai after miracles took place at his grave.  Saint Guthago was the son of  a king who preferred to live as a pilgrim in Flanders and he was burried in Oostkerke. 

This church was one of the first ones in the whole region.  Lots of settlements and chapels (Lapscheure, Moerkerke,...) fell under her authority.  These chapels became churches and lateron independent parishes.  The tower is flat, a unique feature to the polderarea.  Often these churches are told to be a trinity, as though only 3 churches have such a tower: Oostkerke, Damme and Lissewege.  Wrongly, the church of St-Anna Ter Muyden is often "forgotten".  It is said that the tower was used as a lighthouse for the sailors, but that's not sure.  On the cemetery, there appearantly are still some very exceptional graves from the 14th and 15th century.  

In the 13th century, the church was rebuilt in gothic style.  The Geuzen (protestant religious warriors) also visited this church and as a result, reconstrucions had to be done in the 17th century.  The last destruction was at the same time the most worst one and took place at the end of the Second World War.  Retreating German soldiers placed 2500 kg of dynamite in the tower and blew her up.  The tower collapsed and destroyed almost the entire building.  Between 1952 and 1954, the church was restored in her original condition.  A lot of artefacts were demolished, but several items did survive the German blast.  Let's say: go and see!

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© Hendrik De Leyn - www.damme-online.com

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