The Swigtershofje is one of the smallest of Amsterdam’s courtyards, discreetly located between Amstel and Rembrandt square. It was founded in 1744 for the benefit of old roman catholic women by Issac Swigters, Isaac was a wealthy Roman Catholic book and map seller. The church was intended for needy old roman catholic ladies of blameless life. The construction and management of the court, which was also known as St. John’s old woman courthouse, was dedicated to the roman catholic old Armenkantoor. In his will, Swigters states that the inmates who were last allowed in the court had to hand over their property to a relative of his who wanted to live in this courtyard.
The court had eighteen houses in the former Speelman lane. They provided housing for a total of 36 women. In 1751, Swigters was at the bar in ‘t Oogsteeg and decided to turn in into a chapel. As a roman catholic chapel on the street should not be recognized as such, the façade was hidden. The ornate gate in Louis xv style and corridor give access to the courtyard. The entrance is signed on the back pr. pantel 1746 ect. It arrived in Amsterdam from a very rare sculptor who leaves his signature on the gate. All that is know of Peter Pantel is that he was born in 1702 or 1703 and owned a stone quarry on the east side of Amstel at the supreme Sluis where he probably created the gate of Swigtershofje. in the year after the completion of the port, Peter Pantel died and was buried in the old church.
The relief above the entrance shows a giving and receiving arm and two horns of plenty and the inscription ‘beatus qui intelligit super egenum & pauperum in that mala liberabit eum dominus (psalm 41: “ happy are you when you are committed to the weak cause. if you get yourself in trouble, the lord will save you”). The Chapel measures just four by four meters. There is eight-meter gallery space above overlooking the altar on three sides. The interior is decorated in Rococo, and the plaster ceiling and both sides of the eye of god hover above the altar’s frolicking cherubs. In 1979 the chapel was restored to its former state.