The architect of the Krijtberg, Alfred Tepe (1840-1920), was a citizen of Amsterdam. He attended the Jesuit grammar school in Katwijk aan de Rijn. He completed his education to become an architect in Germany. There he was involved in the restoration and completion of the cathedral in Cologne. In 1872 he returned to the Netherlands. He was introduced into a group of builders in Utrecht, which made him known in the country as the ‘master builder of the Archbishopric of Utrecht’. The Krijtberg in Amsterdam, along with the church of St. Willibrord in Utrecht, the Martini-kerk in Arnhem and the church of St. Nicholas in IJsselstein, are considered to be the most important of his 70 churches.
In 1881 the board of the parish awarded the contract to “construct a church with two stair towers, and among others two chapels, a sacristy and stairhead”. Tepe was able to ingeniously fit his design into an existing architectural context between the presbytery at Singel 448 and a residence at Singel 440. The first stone was laid in March 1881, while the existing hidden church at that location continued to function. The new building was only partially constructed, it was enclosed with a wooden fence, and prepared for eucharistic celebrations. At the end of that year, the flags were flown on the highest point. By mid-1882, the former hidden church was removed and replaced with the new sacristy. The remaining space was used for an extension of the presbytery. The church building was consecrated on the feast day of its patron saint St. Francis Xaverius, December 3rd 1883.
The building The church was built in the shape of a three-aisled basilica. Tepe had a restricted area at his disposal, widening to the rear, enclosed by houses on three sides. To collect enough daylight, as well as to accommodate the maximum number of worshippers, Tepe designed the church to be very high. According to tradition of Jesuit churches he installed galleries. The nave is relatively dark, but the spaces around the altar are bathed in light because of their very large windows warmly tinted by their stained glass. Because of the constraints, the church is not aligned East-West; the sanctuary and presbytery actually point to the south-west, the entrance is to the north-east. The slim facade was constructed out of baked masonry, in crossbond, all in one colour. Some decorative elements on pinnacles and roofs have been constructed out of wrought iron, as are the monumental gates in front of the entrances. Tepe was mainly influenced by the German Gothic architecture. For the ‘Krijtberg’, the North-German brick Gothic seems to have been the most important source of inspiration.
Neo-Gothic Neo-Gothic refers to a 19th century movement in architecture, which has been inspired by the medieval Gothic style. It started in England as ‘Gothic Revival’. After the fall of Napoleon, the Neo-Gothic was also copied on the European mainland. In the Netherlands, there was little interest initially, because Catholics were not allowed to build new churches. In 1853, when the Episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands was restored, a renaissance in construction was started, which led to the building of many new churches. Neo-Gothic became the pre-eminent Catholic style. Pierre Cuypers is the most well-known architect of the Neo-Gothic in the Netherlands. However, the guild of St. Bernulph in Utrecht was a rival to the group around Cuypers. Tepe was the most important architect in this guild. He worked together with various artists, including the sculptor Wilhelm Mengelberg.
The inventory The interior decorations are a sharp contrast to the plain exterior of the building. The whole can be seen as a complete work of art, although it is not a piece of art from one maker: the studios of Cuypers and Stoltzenberg provided important contributions.
- The decorative, shiny gold ciborium (originally the altar), the triumph bar above the altar and the communion rails, the altar of Our Lady, the statues of Jesuit saints, the Pietà and, the stations of the Cross were all created by Mengelberg’s studio.
- The Joseph altar and the pulpit came from the studios of Cuypers and Stoltzenberg.
- The statue of the Sacred Heart dates from 1883, the canopy under which it stands is from 1886, both came from the studio of Ramakers in Geleen.
- An 18th century statue in baroque style of the Immaculate Conception originates from the original hidden church.
- The organ was commissioned in 1905. It was manufactured by the organ builders Adema and son in Amsterdam, who re-used the Bätz organ from 1836 from the old church.
- The four hexagonal crowns in the nave and the transept were made by Albert Kniep; they date from 1906, the year in which electric lighting was installed.
- The polychromy painting of the nave and aisles is by Hans Mengelberg, who also painted the transept. Above the arches of the aisles is a continuous text band. Above the arches of the galleries runs a decorative band including among other things two dragons on either side of a 2.5 guilder (left) and of one guilder (right) coin. Both coins display the year 1927, the year in which the polychromy painting was finished.
- On the right side of the Pietà is a baptismal font with a mural by Willem Schermer (1895-1973) behind it, depicting the baptism of Christ.
- The two stained glass windows above the entrance are by Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht. The left one is an allegory, depicting Peace between Wisdom and Justice and dates from 1945; the right one is from 1946 and depicts the three divine virtues of faith, hope and love.
- To the left of the seventh confessional, one sees on the wall a bust of Jan Roothaan, which contains his heart. The silver-plated bust originates from Rome, it was placed on a new silver console and in front of a bronze nimbus from which flames flair up. A light stand with flames is situated below it. Designed and made by Pim Wever in 2008.