A hidden pearl in Vaals


Christian Life

Jeroen Elzer

Museum Vaals, full of religious art. Photo Jeroen Elzer

On a sunny afternoon, I park my car next to a little chapel called Museum Vaals. The first thing I notice when I walk toward the chapel is the vast number of white statues in front of it.

On my right, I see a restaurant called The black Madonna. I am in awe when I enter the chapel (a former Roman Catholic church). Everywhere I look, the most beautiful religious paintings and sculptures.

Before I can walk any further, I must pay the nice young man behind the counter. With an entry ticket in my hand, I wander through the building. The room is quiet and peaceful, apart from the softly speaking couple in the back.

Museum Vaals, full of religious art. Photo Jeroen Elzer

I am blown away by the massive number of religious statues. Out of curiosity, I ask the conversationist how many sculptures there are. And who collected all these precious items. Proudly he tells me his collection counts over 700 of them, and it took him 40 years to collect them all. The well-dressed gentleman tells me he bought the chapel several years ago because his house could no longer contain his fast-growing collection.

When I study the figures from up close, I notice the marvellous detail each of them possesses. The symbolism pops out of every item. An expert would distinguish every single one of the portrayed saints. I recognise Saint Pete by the keys in his hand and the apostle Andrew by the well-known Saint Andrew Cross.

Museum Vaals, full of religious art. Photo Jeroen Elzer

While I am taking photos, a particular painting catches my eye. It is a picture of Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles having their famous last supper. While I walk toward the image, I stumble on a small TV screen showing a video of the owner talking about his collection. It is a shame the screen has a disturbing glare from the sunrays coming through the stained-glass windows.

When I walk towards the exit, I meet the collector again and ask him what his favourite collectable is. He quickly answers with visible excitement that it is the statue of the angel Gabriel who gives a chain to Jesus Christ. Satisfied, I leave the little chapel and conclude that this unknown museum is one of the hidden gems of the Dutch province of Limburg.

Museum Vaals, full of religious art. Photo Jeroen Elzer


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