Roman Catholic Diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch

Location of the Diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands

The Roman Catholic Diocese of 's Hertogenbosch (Latin: Dioecesis Buscoducensis) is a diocese of the Catholic church in the Netherlands. The diocese was historically called Bois-le-Duc. The modern diocese was created in 1853[1]. It is a suffragan of the archdiocese of Utrecht. It is currently led by bishop Hurkmans. Its see is St. John's Cathedral, 's-Hertogenbosch.



The city of 's-Hertogenbosch (Hertzogenbusch, Sylva Ducis) was founded in 1184, but with the surrounding territory, was included in the Diocese of Liège until 12 March 1561. At that time, and in order to check the spread of Protestantism, Pope Pius IV raised it to the dignity of a see, and made it suffragan to the archdiocese of Mechlin. The first bishop was the theologian Francis Sonnius (1562–69), afterwards transferred to the see of Antwerp. His successors suffered in the political disorders and wars of the last quarter of the sixteenth century. When after a long siege the city was captured by Prince Frederick Henry (14 September 1629) and held in the name of the States-General, the sixth bishop, Michael Ophovius, was obliged to abandon his see, which he did in a solemn procession, surrounded by his clergy, and bearing with him a famous miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin which he placed in safety at Brussels.

Joseph de Bergaigne (1638–47) was really little more than bishop in name. He was unable to assert his right to the office, and lived an exile. By the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) the entire territory of Bois-le-Duc was recognized as a permanent conquest of the seventeen united provinces, and made directly subject to their jurisdiction, i.e. to the States-General. The exercise of the Catholic religion was forbidden by law, and the pertinent decrees were applied with rigour. Catholic priests, however, continued secretly their ministry. The diocese became a simple mission, governed by a vicar-Apostolic, nearly always, however, a titular bishop.

Bois-le-Duc was administered in this fashion until 1853. Napoleon had tried (1810) to created another diocese under that name, inclusive of the territory known as the Bouches du Rhin, and obtained a titular for the new see in the person of the imperial courtier, Monsignor Van Camp. A similar failure awaited the attempt, authorized by the Concordat of 27 August 1827, to divide all Holland into two large dioceses, Amsterdam and Bois-le-Duc. The ancient see was finally revived by Pope Pius IX on the occasion of the restoration of the hierarchy in Holland, where, since 1848, the revised constitution has assured to Catholics full political and religious liberty. Together with three other Dutch sees, Bois-le-Duc was re-established by the pontifical Brief of 4 March 1853, and with its former limits; all four sees were made suffragan to Utrecht. The Right Rev. Jan Zwijsen, a native of the diocese and its most illustrious son, hitherto vicar-Apostolic, was the first bishop of the re-established see, though temporarily he was known as administrator-Apostolic, since he was already Archbishop of Utrecht, with which office he was to unite the government of Bois-le-Duc.

In 1865 the first provincial synod was held there. In 1868 he resigned the archiepiscopal See of Utrecht, but continued the administration of Bois-le-Duc. He was succeeded by the Right Rev. Adrian Godschalk, who died in 1892, leaving the see to be filled by Bishop William van den Ven.

The above-mentioned miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin has been restored to the cathedral.


  • Foppen, Historia episcopatus Sylvoeducensis (Brussels, 1721)
  • Coppens, Nieuwe beschryving van het bisdom s'Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc, 1840–44), i-iv
  • Hezenmans, De St. Janskerk te s'Hertogenbosch en hare geschiedenis (Bois-le-Duc, 1866)
  • Albers, Geschiedenis van het herstel der hierarchie in de Nederlanden (Nymegen, 1903–1904), i-ii; Neerlandia catholica (Utrecht, 1888).


  1. ^ Catholic Hierarchy page

External links

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

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