The collegial church of Saint Bertin, which is the principal church of Poperinge, is an example of a Flemish ‘hallekerke’ (construction of the church according to the plan of a covered market), with three naves that have the same height and width. It was rebuilt after the fire of 1419. It owes its name to Saint Bertin who was the abbot at Saint Omer in the 7th century.
The lower part of the old pre-Gothic tower probably supported a tower similar to that of the church of Notre-Dame. The lantern tower dates from the 18th century.
When one looks at the façade, one notices that the alcoves are empty. The statues were destroyed by the ‘Beeldenstorm’ (iconoclasm). Around 1566, this popular Calvinist movement, which was against the representation and the adoration of the saints, destroyed statues and other riches in the churches in the Low Countries. After this disastrous period, the church was embellished among others in the 17th century with a magnificent rood screen adorned with statues representing Jesus and the Apostles and in the 18th century with richly sculpted Baroque confessionals and a monumental cathedra of truth in the Baroque style borne by three saints of the order of the Preaching Friars.
For people who want to know more about this: the altar is surmounted by a canvas by Desremaux (18th century); the tabernacle of copper and silver is the work of P. and H. Boeys (18th century).