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Catharijneconvent

Lange Nieuwstraat 38

The well-known Museum Catharijneconvent has had many guises — Can you tell there used to be a monastery here, the University Medical Centre Utrecht’s predecessor?

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Why do you come across the name Catharijne so often in Utrecht? As early as the 12th century,’ Holy Catherine the Great Martyr‘was one of the most popular saints during the Middle Ages. In the public perception, she lived on for hundreds of years as the patron saint of respectability and as a guardian against the plague.

The Catharijneconvent was a former monastery, which had probably been dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. In 1529, the convent became the property of the Johannites, an international order of knights and part of the Roman Catholic church. The order mainly focused on medical care and so they converted part of the convent into a hospital. At the time, it was the largest hospital in the city, boasting 24 beds.

In 1636, protestants started using the convent church. At around about the same time, Utrecht university was founded, and the protestants gradually turned the hospital into an academic hospital. In a way, the convent was the predecessor of today’s University Medical Centre Utrecht.

The church in the monastic complex deteriorated, and King William II returned the hospital to the Catholic community just under two hundred years later. In 1853, when Utrecht was officially reinstated as an archbishopric, the Catharina church was the only medieval church in Utrecht that was owned by the Catholics.

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