Mathias Hovius

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Matthias Hovius - by Lucas Franchoys the Elder, in the Begijnhofkerk, Mechelen

Mathias Hovius (1542 – 30 May 1620), born Matthijs Van Hove, was the third Archbishop of Mechelen from 1596 to 1620. As Archbishop, Hovius presided over implementing the Catholic Reformation in the Spanish Netherlands.

Early career[edit]

Born at Mechelen, Hovius studied theology and philosophy at the Old University of Leuven, and was ordained priest in 1566, the year iconoclasm broke out in the Netherlands. While pastor at Saints Peter and Paul's Church in Mechelen, Hovius witnessed the Spanish Fury at Mechelen in 1572, and the English Fury at Mechelen in 1580, both during the Eighty Years' War.


Hovius was appointed vicar-general of the archdiocese of Mechelen upon the death of Archbishop Johannes Hauchin in 1589.


In 1596, Hovius was consecrated the third Archbishop of Mechelen. Among his accomplishments were the founding of a seminary and the creation of a catechism with help from the Jesuits. The Mechelen Catechism remained a standard in Catholic religious education in Belgium until well into the twentieth century.

In 1609, Hovius convened a provincial council in Mechelen to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent in the archdiocese. He was supported in his efforts by Albert and Isabella of Austria, Governors-General of the Spanish Netherlands.

Archbishop Hovius died on 30 May 1620 during a canonical visitation to Affligem Abbey.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Johannes Hauchin
Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels
Succeeded by
Jacobus Boonen