Elst – Grote Kerk
M36
Elst
750

Elst – Grote Kerk

Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk

An open-air sanctuary already existed on the site of the Grote Kerk (Great Church) in prehistoric times. The Romans later built here the biggest Gallo-Roman temple north of the Alps. The first Christian church built here dates from the 8th century.

Werenfried
It is said to have been founded by Saint Werenfridus, one of the helpers of the famous Bishop Willibrord of Utrecht. Werenfridus was given the responsibility of converting Elst and its surroundings to Christianity. Werenfridus died in August 760. Both Elst and Westervoort wanted to keep the late evangelist in their midst, and so the two villages agreed to set the coffin afloat on a raft on the Rhine and allow it to drift to its final destination. The raft floated in the direction of Elst, where Werenfridus was accordingly buried.

Saint Martin
The church founded at Elst by Werenfridus was, like most churches of the time, dedicated to Saint Martin. In the 10th or 11th century, it was replaced by a Romanesque church. The present-day church is an even later version, built around 1483. This new church was dedicated to Werenfridus. After the inclusion of Gelre in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (in 1579) the practice of Roman Catholicism was banned. The church came into the hands of the Protestants, and remains so to this day.

WWII
In September 1944, the church lay in the line of fire during Operation Market Garden. For the next six months, the front line ran across the Betuwe region and the church suffered heavy damage in this period.

Relics
The mortal remains of Werenfridus were moved in 925 from the underground crypt to a reliquary within the church. However, this was largely destroyed in 1588 by iconoclasts. A small part of the reliquary was saved and eventually landed in Emmerich. Unfortunately, WWII did not exactly leave Emmerich untouched, and all that remains of Werenfridus is a little piece of burnt bone.

Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
Elst – Grote Kerk
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