HESIUS, Willem
(b. 1601, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Brussel)

Exterior view

Sint-Michielskerk, Leuven

Baroque ecclesiastical architecture of the later seventeenth century in Flanders retained its traditional features, particularly the use of cross- and rib-vaulted roofs and a structure with the emphasis on the vertical.

As was their tradition, the Jesuits continued to leave the building of their monastery churches to trained architects of their own order. Willem Hesius entered the order as a novice. His point of departure as an architect was the architecture initiated by Jacques Francart, with its vertically accentuated façades, marked by slim proportions and a high projecting central element. This could be clearly seen in the façade of the Jesuit church dedicated to St Michael in Leuven, which was begun in 1650. Building was delayed by structural problems in the 1660s, and the church was finally completed in 1671.

The outstanding feature of this building is the rich decoration of the façade. The sculptural ornamentation is indeed elaborate, particularly in the top section.