In the 8th century, a small convent was founded here by Saint Waltrudis (in French: Sainte Waudru). Three Romanesque buildings preceeded the current church, which date from the period 1450 - 1687.
The construction is the fruit of several building phases. But all of them respected the 15th century plans, resulting in a homogenous building in Brabantian Gothic style. As architects, Jan Spijskens from Brussels and Matheus de Layens are named. .
The construction started in 1450. The choir and the radial chapels were finished in 1506. 83 years later, the nave with the side chapels was finished. Those side chapels contain beautiful side altars. The nave is seperated from the side aisle by high pier arches, above which you see with nice tracery finished triforium. The constuction of the western building, which would carry a tower of 190 meters, was broken off in 1687.
The Franse Revolution would not pass unnoticed: the interior was almost enterily damaged.
In 1797, the 16th century albast rood loft was dismanteled. Thehalf-relief and statues from it now are spread in the church.
The choir and the transept are illuminated through windows with stained glass from the 16th and 17th century. The neo-gothic windows in the side chapels date from the 19th century. They contain trefoil arches en trilobates.
The curch treasury holds 2 neo-gothic reliquaries with the remains of Saint-Waltrudis. One contains the head, the other one the other body parts. The relics are taken out yearly through the city. This results from a pest epidemic which hit the area in 1348-1349. On October 7th in 1349, they came to the idea to use the holy saint to fight the epidemia, and rode him through the city. As the epidemic disappeared, thye decided to repeat this yearly. Since 1352, this happens on the Sunday of the Holy Trinity.
The orgue closet was made around 1780 for the Cistercienzerabbey of Cambron-Casteau. This abbey was closed in 1783 by emperror Joseph II. In 1789 it was reopened, but the French occupation closed it definitevily. The orgue was saved. As the interior of the Saint-Waltrudis' church was destroyed, they needed a new orgue. The Cambron orgue was bought. It turned out not to work anymore... and only in 1875, after several fruitless efforts, is played well again. Between 1920 and 1930, un unhandy restauration would silence it again. Only in 1952, a good restauration by Maurice Delmotte would save it and turn it into one of the better sounding orgues in the province (and prossibly in the country).
The church hauses an interesting half-relief from 1434.
There is an interesting 17th century painting, probably made by Van Tulden.
In French, you can find more info on the site of this church.
A spooky remark sent to us by Chris Chardin: 'I was a member of the United States Army Military Police stationed in Shape from 1993 through 1995. I was asked to attend a graduation ceremony at this church for the U S students. It was also the same week that the tomb of the saint was brought down and was roped off for people to see. I couldn't help but to go beyond the ropes and gaze at its beauty. I touched it briefly and with this that night I had a great vision. It was something that just thinking about now gives me chills down my spine. There were voices in this vision and the words spoken I have never found the meaning but were chanted over and over again. I have to wonder if I am the only person this has ever happened to? the vision revealed things that since then I have found to be true through research. If you know of anyone else this has happened to please let me know because I would be interested in sharing the story and seeing if there are any similarities.'