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Medieval Memoria Research


Closing date of crowdfunding campaign: ‘A Hidden Painting – Image of the Reformation of the Jacobikerk in Utrecht’

We live in a time of increased tensions between different groups of our society, but this isn’t the first time our country, the Netherlands, has been confronted with such a situation. During the Reformation, the greatest period of religious upheaval in the history of the nation, there was also great unrest in the population. However, just as is the case today, there were also voices calling for peace and tolerance then.

Truus van Bueren and Corinne van Dijk are researching the history of the Reformation in Utrecht, and particularly the special role of the Jacobikerk during this time. Our point of departure is a painted text panel showing a biblical passage, behind which a medieval painting is hidden. The painting shows a Mass of Saint Gregory, and the presence of praying portraits also makes it a memorial piece. Technical research, archival research and comparative research into similar works of art and early protestant text panels yielded surprising discoveries, new insights and questions.

Text panel showing a passage from the letter of Paul to the Hebrews (12:14-24). A medieval painting is hidden underneath the fading paint. Jacobikerk, Utrecht (photograph: Ruben de Heer).

We delved into the sermons of Hubert Duifhuis (c. 1515-1581), the priest/preacher under whose leadership the catholic Jacobi Parish became a protestant church. The sermons are still relevant today. Duifhuis did not mince his words, and argued that every believer could live their lives as he or she saw fit. He abhorred and rejected every attempt to control and influence the way others practised their religion, regardless of who they were or in which church they chose to worship.

Our research and findings are going to be published in our book (in Dutch), Overschilderd: van Gregoriusmis naar Bijbeltekst. De Reformatie van de Utrechtse Jacobikerk. The book will be presented during the symposium Tolerantie en verdraagzaamheid in historisch perspectief, which is to be held on 27 October 2017 in the Jacobikerk.

The same object captured using infrared reflectography. The hidden painting reveals itself to be an extraordinary Mass of Saint Gregory, and also a memorial piece (photograph: Ige Verslype).

To finish our research and publish the book we need your help! Will you help us show how objects can play an important role in exploring the history of the Reformation in Utrecht? Support this amazing research project. Donate and help us unlock part of Utrecht’s cultural history for the public!


“Passion is a keyword in this unique book – and passion also characterizes this beautiful project. Science begins with the discovery and disclosure of important sources, and it is with great respect and conviction that I recommend this project to you all.”

– Prof. dr. Frits van Oostrom


What you will get in return for your donation

All donations, including small ones, are welcome and very much appreciated! However, we would like to express our gratitude for larger gifts with a number of gifts of our own. Check out our project page for the complete information or to make a donation right now! (This webpage is available in Dutch and English.)

Want to know more?

Visit our website (Dutch only) for additional information about the project, for sneak peaks into the history of the research, and for further endorsements by the ambassadors of our project. For questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Ambassadors of this project