License: Creative Commons - Attribution Author: Dimitris Kamaras
The St. Walburga Church
is a 17th-century Roman-Catholic church in Bruges built by the Jesuits in a Baroque style. It is now a parish church and contains many valuable art objects.
In 1596 the Jesuits first built a chapel. Soon after they started building a church with a college, a convent, a chapel and garden. Formal construction of the church took place between 1619 and 1641 after a design by local Jesuit architect Pieter Huyssens (1577-1637). After his death, his fellow Jesuit J. Boulé took over the supervision of the construction works. The original designs of Huyssens with respect to the tower, the vault and windows of the nave were not fully executed due to financial constraints and rivalry among the Jesuits of Bruges and Antwerp. The church was dedicated to St. Francis Xavier by Msgr. Nicolas de Haudrion in 1642.
In 1773 the Jesuit Order was dissolved and the church closed by imperial decree. The Jesuit church was taken over as parish church in 1777 as the original parish church was dilapidated. The parish church was demolished in 1781 and its furnishings sold to finance the restoration of the decaying Jesuit church. In 1779 the former Jesuit church was inaugurated as a parish church and the relics of St. Walburga were transferred to it. The church was turned into a Temple of the Law in 1796 by the French occupiers. The church recovered its religious function under the name "St. Donatian Church" in 1805 after the transfer of the relics of Saint Donatian from the dilpated church of the same name.
In 1854 the church was unofficially awarded its current name. The church incurred heavy damage mainly to the northern aisle due to a bomb explosion in 1918.