(L): H. Stephanus Vinding (C. Franssen 1900-1906)
Like many churches in
Limburg the medieval church of Heel became too small for its community
in the late 19th century. At first, only the old choir was demolished
and replaced by a new choir and transept. But ultimately, also the nave
had to go. Only the tower remains of the old church. The rest was
replaced by the current three-aisled neo-Gothic
cruciform basilican church.
Such total replacements of old churches are not rare. In fact, there
are very few churches left that were untouched. Yet, the church of Heel
is perhaps one of the most satisfying of these rebuilts. While most
neo-Gothic churches that were built between 1850 and 1914 were
constructed out of brick, this is one of only three churches that were
built during this period in Limburg where marl was used instead. Marl
is a natural stone from nearby quarries, that had been used in church
architecture in this part of the country for many centuries. The use of
this stone gives this church an authentic look that many of its
contemporary churches lack; those churches simply do not look as if
they were designed for this part of the country. Architect Caspar
Franssen did not voluntarily use this material though, but was forced
to do so by the provincial governor, who acted on the advice of
influential architect P.J.H.
Cuypers and Victor de Stuers, who at that time was the
national expert on historic buildings and their restoration. It was the
only time Franssen used marl to such a large degree.
The architect took some of his inspiration from the regional Maasland
Gothic style (see Gothicism).
Especially the Stiftskerk
in nearby Thorn seems to have been an influence. Similarities are the
shape of the buttresses, the windows and the decorative traceries in
the tops of the transepts' gables.
At the end of World War Two the church was badly damaged. In 1948-1949
the damage was repaired by architect P. Cuypers jr..