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:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.