Boterhal or St Jans Gasthuis
This former hospital is one of the best examples of early Dutch Renaissance architecture in the Netherlands. Above the stone plaque there is a niche with a statue of John the Baptist. On either side of the doors are worn fluted pillars, these were reputed to have a healing property and in earlier days people would rub these stones hoping to avert illness.
The building was in use as a hospital up to 1840, it then fell into disrepair and was used for army stores and then as butter and egg market hall, which is why it is now known as the Boterhal. It has now been fully restored and is an art gallery for local artists. If it is open take a look at the interesting interior.
John the Baptist was born about six months earlier than Jesus, his parents, Elizabeth and Zacharias, were both elderly and Elizabeth was barren. The angel Gabriel had appeared to Zacharias and had announced that Elizabeth would bear a son, and that he was to be named John.
Zacharias asked for a sign, so Gabriel then took away his power of speech saying that this would return at the birth of their son. Elizabeth did indeed give birth to a son, John, and Gabriel recovered his speech, they rejoiced and thanked God for his mercy.
When John had reached the age of about thirty he travelled into the wilderness, preaching, baptising and proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, the Lamb of God. Herod, who ruled Israel at that time, celebrated his birthday with a banquet for prominent religious, political and military leaders. Herod's daughter Salome danced before the assembly and all were dazzled by her performance. Herod impetuously said that she could ask for any reward, even half his kingdom, and it would be hers. Salome went to her mother for advice and was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a charger. When his daughter returned with this blood-thirsty request Herod was troubled but could not back down in front of his guests. A guard was sent to behead John in his prison cell. He returned with the severed head on a platter, Salome received it as her reward and brought it to her mother. When the apostles heard of John's execution they came for the body and gave it burial.
Because St. John had already known God before his birth and had been filled with God's Grace the Church celebrates both his birthday (June 24) and the date of his death (29 august).
Patron Saint of: weavers, tailors, painters, tanners, carpenters, smiths, coopers, chimney sweeps, inn-keepers, furriers, wine makers, architects, shepherds and their sheep, dancers, musicians, singers, those who fast, the Knights of Malta and the Carmelite Order.
Patron Saint protecting against: headache, hoarseness, dizziness, epilepsy, children's diseases, fear and hailstorms.