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The Hillegonda Church of Hillegersberg

Hillegersberg is a suburb of the city of Rotterdam, but when this small town was founded the now famous harbor city of Rotterdam did not yet exist. There was only a marsh and a river with the name, the Rotte.

The Hillegonda Church with a castle were built on a big hill of sand, by Count Amulfus, probably in 990, and finished with the help of monks in 1025 A.D., but completed as a fortress in 1250. The first occupant of the castle was Franke Stoep of Hildegardsberg, the second Lord Kerstant van den Berge (1343). In 1426, the castle was destroyed by Jacoba van Beieren, but the Church was saved; the ruins are left.

The name of the State Reformed Church is not related to a saint, but dates back to a legend about a woman who would have brought the sand to that unusual spot, Countess Hillegonda.

In the tower of the church are two bells since 1592, but renewed in 1909 because of cracks. Of the first Church some very big bricks have been used later, during enlarging of the building in all directions. But in 1426 the Church was destroyed, in 1530 rebuilt in the shape of a pseudo-basilica. In 1687 and 1856 again enlarged.

The first Reformed minister was in 1577, Arnoldus Genius.

In 1700, eight beautiful stained windows were given to the Church by wealthy members, but all of them were vandalized. In 1923 began attempts to replace them, again by gifts, in total twelve (including a window above the entrance). They relate to well-known parts of the Bible.

The vestry was rebuilt in 1783. The whole Church is restored in 1967, under supervision of the Committee for Monuments care of the government.

The pulpit was made in 1631 of oak by Dirck Michielezn Cock, but had to be restored carefully in 1975, because wood worms had taken hold of it. In 1628 and 1661, chandeliers were made by Johan Kampvoort, for the use of candles. They are still used in the evening services.

In 1830 a very good organ was built, but in 1922 replaced by a new one, and again another one in 1982. The air in the church is not good for organs. The exterior, however, has remained the same over the years. Now the Hillegonda Church has a big problem, because the whole roof has to be renewed, since it has been discovered that it has been attacked by a gnawing beetle (aggressive bug). This will cost 1 million Guilders. About 75Z of the money has been brought together so far.

Still every Lord’s Day hundreds of people of all ages climb up the hill to the Hillegonda Church.