The monastery's chapel
at 'Rapenburg'.


A brief description.


The monastery.


The monastery of the Dominican nuns in Leiden, was founded before 1447,  when prioress Sister Machteld Jansdr.,  bought a house in Leiden. The City Council Resolutions from 1453 are obvious, speaking  of 'de jacobinessen, wonende in Jan van den Monde's huis op Rapenburch'.  Martialis Auribelli, O.P., 29th Magister of the Dominican Order (1453-141462), recognized this house as a Dominican monastery. On 25 May 1454, Pope Nicholas V charged the provost of the church of Saint Peter in Utrecht, Wouter van der Goude, to confirm the papal approbation of the monastery, which he did on 27 Augustus 1454.


The chapel and the churchyard, 1450-1572.


In many cities there way in Leiden a chapel named 'Jerusalem", built by the pilgrims to the Holy Land as thank for their return. The Sisters received this chapel by mediation of the Rotterdam Dominican Arnoldus van Doetinchem n 1450.

The Dominican Gerlacus, Bishop of Hierapolis and Suffragan of Utrecht  consecrated the altar, dedicated to Maria Magdalen and Elisabeth of Thüringen, and the churchyard on 28 June 1450.


The churchyard.


In this churchyard, many personalities were buried: Family van Adrichem, Gysbert van den Bokhorst  (+1535), Master Richaerd Baradot, secretary of the King (1518), Jacop van Montfoert (+1572).


The new chapel in 1560 till 1572.


In the early part of the 16th  century, the sisters started the building of a large chapel. Therefore the General Master of the Order allowed the sisters to accept funds by the preaching of the Dominican fathers in the 'termijngebied' of the priories in 's-Gravenhage, Haarlem, Zierikzee, Utrecht and Leeuwarden. Jacobus de Ridder, suffragan of Utrecht, consecrated the church in 1560.


In the evening of Monday 26 August 1566, the iconoclasts demolished three altars, a statue of the Blessed Virgin and paintings, among others of Rogier van Leyden. On 29 September 1572, soldiers of Prince Willem van Oranje invaded again the monastery, and destroyed the interior. The sisters fled to Delft, Engelendale (Brugge), Wijk bij Duurstede, Heusden. Some Sisters, housing near the city wall of Leiden, were assaulted by soldiers on 3 October 1574. They tore the clothes from sisters' bodies, and drove them to the street.

The chapel is used as Board Building since 1581.


The Board of the University cleared up the debris  for the construction  of a herb garden in 1594. Streets around the old academy building remind of the monastery: Nonnensteeg, Nonnenbrug. The chapel



Source: Wolfs, O.P., Drs S.P. 1988. Middeleeuwse Dominicanessenkloosters in Nederland. Van Gorkum. Assen/Maastricht. Pp 40-56.


The University of Leiden.

 In 1574, Prince William of Orange took the first steps towards establishing the university, when he wrote a letter to the States of Holland. In this letter he proposed that as a reward for the town’s brave resistance against the Spanish invaders a university be founded which would serve as ‘a staunch support and maintenance of the freedom and good lawful government of the country’. On February 8, 1575, the university was founded, and later was granted the motto Praesidium Libertatis, or Bastion of Liberty.

Ironically, the name of Philip II of Spain, William's adversary, appears on the official foundation certificate, as he was still the de jure Count of Holland. It is traditionally said that the citizens of Leiden were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes, and that the citizens believed that a tax law could be rescinded, whereas the great universities of Europe had survived for many centuries.

During the first three years of its history, the University was housed first at the Barbara cloister and subsequently from 1577 to 1581 at the Faliede Bagijnhof, the very place where one will nowadays again find the Board of the University at Rapenburg 70.

In 1581 the University then moved to the other side of the canal called the Rapenburg, and found permanent residence in the old church of the monastery of the Dominican Sisters. It is in this building where the university still celebrates its rituals, where inaugural lectures and valedictions are held, where defence ceremonies and examinations take place, and where its graduates receive their diplomas.

 The royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau and Leiden University still have a close relationship. The Queens Juliana and Beatrix and crown-prince Willem-Alexander studied at Leiden University. In 2005 Queen Beatrix received a rare honorary degree from Leiden University.

Source: Wikipedia

The Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden), 1589.

After the departure of the Dominican sisters, September 1572, the garden of the monastery falls back into savagery, till Carolus Clusius (19 February 1526 - 4 April 1609) founded there the Botanic Garden of the University in 1590.


The Garden was to play an important role in botanical research and teaching, and was also instrumental in the introduction of many ornamental plants from the Mediterranean and the Far East to the Netherlands.
This garden is the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands, and one of the oldest in the world. Plants from all over the world have been carefully cultivated here by experts for more than four centuries. The Clusius garden (a reconstruction), the 18th century Orangery with its monumental tub plants, the rare collection of historical trees hundreds of years old, the Japanese Siebold Memorial Museum symbolising the historical link between East and West, the tropical greenhouses with their world class plant collections, and the central square and Conservatory exhibiting exotic plants from South Africa and southern Europe.
In 1988, it was united with the Rijksherbarium to form the first 'Research Institute' within the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Leiden.

Source: Wikipedia.




The chapel 'Jerusalem' at Leiden of the Dominican nuns (1450),  rebuilt in 1516.
After the driving-out of the Sisters in 1572, the University used the chapel as the Board Building since 1581.

The wooden tower is constructed after the plan
of W. van der Helm, 1670.


Netherlands 1937.Postcard, series III, nr.6.






375th Anniversary of the founding of the University of Leiden
by Prince William of Orange in 1575.

The cchapel (1560) of the former Dominican monastery at Rapenburg, Leiden,
is since 1581 used as Board Building.


 Netherlands 1950, Mi 563-564, Sc 328-329, FDC




On the postmark the Board Building

of the State University of Leiden at the Rapenburg.


Netherlands 1966. Postmark Leiden 03.06.1966.




The monastery's garden is since 1590 a part of the Botanical Garden
of the University.
4th Centenary of the Botanical Garden,1590-1990.

The Netherlands 1990, Mi 1375, Sc 752.




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