The history of Saint Bavo Cathedral is closely connected with the history of the city of Ghent. The original St. Jan's Church, from which the earliest sources date from the 10th Century, was the oldest and most important church in the portus, or commercial locale of Ghent. Through the centruries, the site experience various building campaigns. Thus began the construction of the ‘new' Gothic church already around 1274, but was completed only in 1558-1559. Twenty years prior the Saint Bavo abbey was vacated after the Carolingian Concession and the capital of the canons was brought over to the St. Jan's church. From that point on, the St. Bavo became the most important guardian saint of the capital church. When Pope Paulus IV established a number of new bishopdoms in the Low Countries, Ghent also received a bishop seat and the capital church became a cathedral. Although during the Iconoclast, many of the art treasures were lost, a number of pieces, among which was the Ghent Altarpiece of the brothers Van Eyck, were safeguarded. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, the interior of the cathedral got its definitive form. Dynamic bishops such as Antoon Triest played an important role in this. Excellent examples of his curation are the altarpiece Conversion of Saint Bavo by Peter Paul Rubens from 1624 and the monumental Rococo pulpit of Laurent Delvaux from 1741-1745.
Johan De Smet