Saint Michael's Church was built between 1650 and 1671 for the Jesuit College of Leuven by Jesuit architect Willem Hesius. Initially it was built as a house of prayer for the Jesuit monastery. Following the Franco-Spanish war the Spanish members of the community were ordered to leave France, and in 1542 seven Spanish Jesuits came to Leuven.
The facade of the church with its rich decorations is one of the so-called seven wonders of Leuven. The Jesuit order was abolished in 1773. When the local parish church of Saint Michael was in disrepair, the parish church of Saint Michael was transferred to the Jesuit-built church. A copper holy-water font of 1473 near the entrance, was transferred from the old church of Saint-Michael. The porch altars, communion rail and confessionals date back to the original 17th century original baroque furnishings.
The church was almost completely destroyed during bombardment of the city on the night of 10-11 May 1944. Luckily the frontal facade remained undamaged. Rebuilding of the church was completed in 1950.
Along each side nave is a collection of confessional boxes (17th century, Brabant baroque) linked together to form a whole. They are decorated with carvings of angels, statues and depictions of scenes relating to the Eucharist and the confession.
The original pulpit was transferred in 1776 on the order of Empress Maria—Theresia to the cathedral in the city of Brussels (where it can still be found today). The pulpit from Brussels was brought to Leuven. It was made for the Brussels cathedral by Simon Duray in 1667. On transfer to Leuven, the original images of St. Goedele, St. Michiel and the four evangelists were removed.
In the church there are many wooden statues of Christ, Our Lady with child and various saints. The paintings of the calvary stations date from the early and mid 19th century, by different Flemish painters. Several valuable works of art, both statues and paintings, have been given to the Municipal Museum of Leuven for safe keeping.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.