Jakob Crils, who was abbot of the abbey from 1664 until 1695, commissioned the painting in the transept of the Church of Our Lady as one of four large works. While He is having a meal at Simon the Pharisee’s house, a sinful woman shows Jesus the respect he is entitled to as a guest (contrary to Simon himself), an occurrence that results in a lively discussion about what is real forgiveness. Painter Jan Erasmus Quellinus sought inspiration for the grand decor of the church with Venetian architect Andrea Palladio who, in his turn, looked at antiquity to inspire him.
This neo-gothic church from the 1850s, with its simple, monochrome white, narrow interior, is the centre of the abbey where the Norbertine monastic community celebrate the daily Eucharist. The Da Vinci museum in the abbey also houses a close replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous 1498 fresco of the Last Supper on the wall of the dining hall in the Dominican monastery in Milan. Legend has it that the work of almost 34 sqm in Tongerlo was painted by Da Vinci’s pupil Andrea Solario, under the watchful eye of the master himself. Whatever the truth may be, some experts have proclaimed it the best replica of the fading original.