Fascination is the key to quality

Activities in the Cornelius Basilica & church for rent English text Nederlandse tekst

June 2020

The Cornelius church has always been the central place for worship in Welberg, and now it isn't any more, primarily because less and less inhabitants visit it and contribute to it, it is still a focal point in Welberg. For me, there are four considerations to open the church for activities every now and then.

  • I noticed that this former religious building is very important to many Welbergians. They possibly have rememberings to it, were baptised in it, buried there parents from it and in any case it is an atmospheric and beautiful church that literally is the culmination of the small church-village Welberg. I would like to give them access to the church every now and then.
  • Also for me, this is a great church, I enjoy the beatiful architecture, I am going to improve the atmosphere with lighting and I do fascinating things in this inspiring environment. Owning this church is a big and exciting adventure, including the struggle to maintain the monument. I love to share this with people who feel involved.
  • It would be great to organise activities in the part of the church that is not occupied with my stuff. The church has a great acoustics, very suitable for choir singing and concerts. Also theater, parties and other happenings could be organised. I would like to do so in cooperation with the Leisure for Welberg Association that organised a Halloween theatre and a Christmas market in the past.
  • If I could offer the church for rent for concerts, public activities or private use, that would help me covering the costs of this maintenance-intensive monument.

But can this be done? As I will have fitted the church for my use, it will be a private space with about ten old cars, organs, car and organ parts, tools and stuff all over the place. I can assure you that I will not spoil time with tidying up the whole place at the end of every day.

However, I will try to organise it in a way that every now and then I can open church for a public activity. Some considerations:

  • For a public or private activity, I will free up the central space: the crossing, choir and part of the transepts. It can accomodate to about 200 people.
  • The church is an inspiring place to give concerts, primarily with choir and/or organ, both because of its architecture, decoration and lighting, and of its very good acoustics. The reverberance time is about 4.5 seconds, with a good contribution of lower frequencies.
  • The church can be rented for private happenings, parties, meetings, family dinners, etcetera.
  • However, activities that resemble religious celebrations are prohibited by the Diocese. No weddings, funerals, masses etcetera. Otherwise I will get in serious trouble.
  • Maintaining this historic building costs a lot of time and money. I will consider renting the church, not because I want to earn money, but because of the maintenance and restoration costs.
  • I might offer heating, but this comes at a cost.
  • It would be nice to introduce people to this spectacular architecture, by explaining how it is possible that stones fly over you for thirteen meter, what the eight empty meters above the brick vaulting look like, where my church owls live, what great space there is in the tower, how heavy the bells are and how they sound, and what great view you have from the tower. And if you really are not afraid of heights, I will take you to in the spire! My experience is that in particular for young people, this is an impressive experience that you will remember the rest of your life!
  • The tower is also available. What about a 'breakfast with a view' near the clocks? Twice an hour the clock makes a bit of a noise, but you can hear it coming and close your ears.
  • And what about a workshop in the 5 x 5 meter space in the body of the tower, with its 5.5 meter high ceiling? It has six two meter high windows! (but I have to admit they are only 10 cm wide smiley)

Something different is that I regret it sincerely that many elements that contribute to making the church an inspiring building have been removed during the desecration. Both for the atmosphere as for the art-historical value it is important that, to name a few larger objects, the stations of the Cross, the baptismal font, and paintings of Our Lady, and, to name a smaller object, the candlesticks of the altars, saint statues and conscration crosses stay in the building. Over the years, this monumental church has been enriched by the Welbergians as a place of religious gatherings and has turned into a complete work-of-art (Gesamtkunstwerk).

The diocese however requires that at the desecration of the church and transfer to non-religious use, such art is removed. Every now and then a chapel continues to be accessible, for instance as a chapel of Our Lady, like the new owner arranged here in Dongen-Vaart, much to the delight of the local community. If I would give the public access to the church for an activity, couldn't the Our Lady's chapel be re-installed for worship? Riny van Broekhoven around the closure insisted with the parish that in particular the original decoration of the Lady chapel would be conserved and this was agreed … so, who knows?

If you have ideas, suggestions, remarks or even requests, let me know!


The Saint Cornelius Church is an impressive monument of brick construction from the Interbellum. The atmosphere will be improved even further after adding indirect lighting, that light the beautiful stone vaults. After I have reorganised the interior, it will make a nice place for public or private activities. All photos © Rens Swart, unless stated otherwise


The wide central space and the choir and apse will be available for for example concerts. Choirs sound brilliant from under the decorative apse paintings due to the good acoustics. (This photo was taken from the scaffolding, in June 2020 I was busy with removing the oak pews and the wooden deck. By the way, I did not correct this photo for the awfull greenish colour of the high pressure lamps!)

Zingen met een koor in de Corneliusbasiliek. Hier het Haarlemmermeers Kamerkoor in 2006

Singing in the Cornelius Basilica is very rewarding. Not only is the church atmospheric, it has very good acoustics, in particular if you sing from the apse. The choir above would fit very well (it is the former Haarlemmermeers Chamber Choir, do you spot me?).

The Dutch radar satellite network NL-RIA, meeting at ISIS

Wouldn't a meeting in the Cornelius Basilica be a bit less boring than in a simple business room? These are engineers and scientists talking about the development of a swarm of small radar satellites in February 2020. This is my other work.

Corneliusbasiliek Halloween tsja

The Leisure for Welberg Association organised a Halloween theatre in the decommissioned building, before I owned it. Can I still accomodate activities like that in the church after I filled it with my stuff? Photo from a newspaper

Kerstmarkt op 8 december 2019 in de Corneliusbasiliek

A few days after I became the owner of the Cornelius church, on 8 December 2019 the Christmas market took place, that was already organised by the Leisure for Welberg Association.

De stenen gewelven van de Corneliusbasiliek van boven

What about an exciting tour along places you normally never see? Walking over the stone vaults, that bend like huge elephant backs several meters downwards?

De torenspits van de Corneliusbasiliek

With some effort one can even climb into the wooden spire. How high can you get? The only thing is I will not allow you to climb to the rooster outside.

Voormalige Mariakapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Welberg in de Corneliuskerk

I reckon with the re-decoration of the chapel of Our Lady of Welberg, both for religious and historical reasons, the latter because the discussed Marian apparation in Welberg to Janske Gorissen took place here. Photo by a parishioner during the closing celebration on 15 November 2014

Voormalige Mariakapel Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Welberg zoals hij er nu uitziet

The Lady Chapel in the Saint-Cornelius Basilica as it is now.

Kind regards,
Rens Swart