Silent Crowds On Kalverstraat

The plaque on Kalverstraat was placed in 2001 in memory of the Miracle of Amsterdam and Heilige Stede (Holy Place).
The plaque on Kalverstraat was placed in 2001 in memory of the Miracle of Amsterdam and Heilige Stede (Holy Place).

Every day the eyes of shoppers are focused on the windows in the main shopping street, Kalverstraat. Once a year, this is not the case during the Silent Procession. Then thousands of eyes do not watch the window of Kalverstraat 87, but the lantern and on the plaque above the storefront. The plaque was placed in 2001 in memory of the Miracle of Amsterdam and Heilige Stede (Holy Place).

On the night of March 15 to 16 is the 671st anniversary of the Miracle of Amsterdam which took place on this address in Kalverstraat. A dying man, bearing the last rites, threw up a wafer, which was thrown into the fire, but the wafer did not burn. The wafer was taken to the Old Church, but it miraculously returned to Kalverstraat. This was repeated once more. The Amsterdam Miracle was born.

Detail of the miracle of the Heilige Stede, the miracle of the undigested wafer - 1505-1518 by Jacob Cornelisz. Oostsanen at Amsterdam Museum
Detail of the miracle of the Heilige Stede, the miracle of the undigested wafer – 1505-1518 by Jacob Cornelisz. Oostsanen at Amsterdam Museum

The miracle of the wafer was led to start a chapel, the Chapel of the Heilige Stede. It was inaugurated already in 1347. A stream of pilgrims came, there were two processions annually and the small chapel was continuously expanded and enlarged over time. The wafer continued, according to tradition, preserved its miraculous power. When the chapel fell victim to the city fires of 1421 and 1452, the wafer remained undamaged.

Amsterdam remained a pilgrimage town until 1578 and the Chapel Heilige Stede stood amids the religious life. In that year, however, the old Catholic faith was pushed aside and the city council chose for Protestantism. Monasteries were confiscated, churches were stripped of their saints, altars and decorations. The Chapel Heilige Stede was renamed Nieuwezijds Chapel (New Side Chapel) and continued in use as a Protestant church until 1908. Then the curtain fell. The old building was demolished to the last stone in its place came a new chapel. They only preserved the floor with its old gravestones.

Silent Procession in 2012 with the lantern on Kalverstraat
Silent Procession in 2012 with the lantern on Kalverstraat

The use for Protestant services and the eventual demolition of the chapel did not mean that the people forgot the Miracle. In 1881, on the initiative of a few individuals, people walked in silence the medieval sacrament processions. Within a few years this initiative had grown into a rapidly growing movement known as the Company of the Silent Procession. Every year in March, the company organizes the Silent Procession with thousands of Catholic pilgrims from the Netherlands to Amsterdam. This Saturday night, March 12 to 13, they silently commemorate the Miracle of Amsterdam.

New Side Chapel around 1600
New Side Chapel around 1600
New Side Chapel before 1908
New Side Chapel before 1908
New Side Chapel demolished. Some of parts of the pillars are in use in a small park near my home
New Side Chapel demolished. Some of parts of the pillars are in use in a small park near my home

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