The Minderbroeders Church in Hasselt is also known locally as the 'Paterkeskerk'. It is perhaps the most well-known 'monument' in Hasselt. People come from all around to the Minderbroedersstraat in order to beseech a blessing at the memorial tomb of Father Valentenus Paquay, 'Het Heilig Paterke'.
Church since 1655
The church is an austere 1-bay Baroque building. Around 1645 a start was made to the building of the church, 2 years after the minderbroeders (Franciscan friars) received permission to set up a cloister in Hasselt.
The stories suggest that friar Nicolaas Ray led the building work as architect, whilst friar-auxiliary bishop Blavier inaugurated the church in 1655.
- The blue stone entrance with triangular pediment has undergone some radical changes in the 18th century. On the pediment the coat of arms of the Baron and Baroness of Vogelsang, benefactors of the cloister, were chiselled out of the stone. The French occupiers roughly knocked away the coat of arms and the damage have never since been repaired.
- At the end of the 18th century the priests were driven away by the French occupiers and the entire furnishings including the church bells were sold off.
- During the 19th century the church was used as a military storage space, shed and horse stables.
Franciscan Friars and Father Valentinus
The Franciscan friars (minderbroeders) returned in 1846 to the city, where they served in the Our Lady Church (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk). But in 1898 they were able to buy back their old cloister building. The church was then restored almost immediately.
On the instruction of Father Valentinus Paquay, they were dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Paquay died in 1905, after more than 50 years in the order. Twenty years after his death the burial chamber of Valentinus Paquay was built directly next to the church. It quickly became known by the locals as 'Het Heilig Paterke'. His body was buried there in 1926 and he was given a monumental memorial tomb by the artist Holemans.
The life of Father Valentinus has continued to fascinate the locals of Hasselt, so much so that a committee successfully pleaded to the pope to beatify Father Valentinus in 2003.