A major work by Jacques Du Broeucq, it was built in the sixteenth century (towards 1535–1538) at the request of the canonesses of St Waltrude and placed at the entrance of the choir of the Collegiate, separating the sanctuary reserved for members of the chapter from the nave, which was accessible to everyone. Like an imposing three-bay triumphal arch (its original dimensions were 12 metres wide, 4.5 metres deep and 7.5 metres high), it was made from marble and alabaster, two materials little known and rarely used in the region at the time. After the French Revolution, the rood screen was removed and today only sculptures and alabaster reliefs remain, however, testifying to its richness and its architectural qualities. The preliminary design of the rood screen (classified as a Treasure of the French Community of Belgium) has also reached us, offering some literary descriptions of the work as well as statements of account specific to its construction. These testimonies affirm the influence of the Quattrocento and the Italian High Renaissance: horizontal tendencies, triple arch formed by barrel vaults, balustrade, large entablature, alternating materials offering a range of colours (translucent alabaster, black marble of Dinant), strong corbels, columns with motley capitals, etc.
Du Broeucq, an avant-gardist
He alone is behind for the modernity embodied in the rood screen, as this type of gallery did not exist in Italy. And although discoveries of other rood screens in the former Low Countries predate that of Mons, none were decorated with Virtues or presented the cycle of Creation (planned cycle in the preliminary design), which was ultimately not executed, since the chapter preferred that of the Passion to honour his catechetical vision. Indeed, the Virtues and the Passion had the value of reminding the faithful issuing from the nave which path to follow to enter the sanctuary, but not without having passed under the central arch depicting the Last Judgment. Moreover, in the artistic work of the sculptures and reliefs from the rood screen, Du Broeucq’s stands out in its modern, Mannerist style (elongated forms, poses with precarious balances, dissonance of perspectives and exaggerated arrangement).