On the busy shopping street Kalverstraat (Calf Street) at number 58 you can find a former Catholic hidden church (schuilkerk), nicknamed De Papegaai (The Parrot), officially the Church of St. Peter & St. Paul. It was built in the 1672 as a shelter church, because the Protestant Alteration of 1578 disallowed public Catholic services. The church was first located inside the house itself, then in 1710 in the garden of the wealthy Bout family. It is currently the largest Amsterdam hidden church which is still in use. The church is a national monument and freely accessible between 10:00 and 16:00, except on Sunday afternoon. Sunday Mass is celebrated here in Latin with Gregorian chant.
The owner of the house and the garden in which the hidden church was originally created was a bird trader, hence the parrot above the entrance (on the left) and the church’s nickname. In 1853 Catholics were again permitted to hold publicly accessible services, so the former shelter church was replaced with a larger neogothic church from 1848 on, its rich inventory preserved. The architect was Gerrit Moele.
After the new church was built in 1848 the church was still sort of hidden. It wasn’t until 1899 that the church was elongated further – the original house demolished — and the entrance gate on Kalverstraat 58 was created. Further smaller expansions followed in 1909 and 1931. The entrance and stairway were renovated in 1932 in art deco style. Another renovation followed in 2004. The facade has a statue of St. Joseph (to whom the church is dedicated) on the right and and a perched parrot on the left. The church building runs all the way to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 293, which is the rectory from 1914.
Above the church gallery two stained glass windows were added in 1933, which came from the demolished St. Catherine Church at Singel 425. On the side of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 293 (the rectory) there is a medieval turret (a small wooden tower on top of the roof) which marks the place of the church in the block of buildings. That turret came from the Nieuwezijds Kapel (New Side Chapel), the former Holy Stead (Heilige Stede) on Rokin from 1347, which was demolished in 1908.
Initially De Papegaai was a subsidiary church of the so-called French Church from 1662 on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 312, which was rebuilt in 1733, closed in 1911 and demolished in 1912. That church served mostly the many French and Italian Catholics in Amsterdam and was run by French Carmelites until 1806.
Church De Papegaai Photo Gallery (June & September 2021)
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