Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard, Vilnius
|Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard|
Šv. Pranciškaus ir Šv. Bernardino bažnyčia
|Architectural style||Late Gothic and Brick Gothic|
|Direction of façade||West|
The Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard (also known as Bernardine Church) is a Roman Catholic church in the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania. It is located next to St. Anne's Church. Dedicated to Saints Francis of Assisi and Bernardino of Siena, it is an important example of Gothic architecture in Lithuania.
After their arrival in Vilnius, Bernardine monks built a wooden church in the second half of the 15th century, and at the end of the same century - a brick one. In the early 16th century it was reconstructed, apparently with the participation of a master from Gdansk (Danzig) Michael Enkinger. In the beginning of the 16th century the church was incorporated into the construction of Vilnius defensive wall, so there are shooting openings in its walls. Afterwards it was renewed many times, particularly after the 1655-61 war with Moscow, when the Cossacks ravaged the church killing the monks and citizens who had taken shelter there. In the times of the Soviet occupation it was closed down and handed over to the Art institute. In 1994, the brethren of St. Francis returned to the church. According to the legend, the Bernardine monks used to tell such good sermons that crowds would come to listen. That is why the church is so large.
Church and Monastery are some of the largest sacral buildings in Vilnius, although in the 17th and 18th centuries they acquired the Renaissance and Baroque features. Being much larger and more archaic than the St. Anne's Church, it forms and interesting and unique ensemble with the latter. Gothic pointed-arch windows and buttresses stand out on the façade. Above them rises a pediment with twin octagonal towers on the sides and a fresco depicting the Crucifix in the middle niche. A Gothic presbytery is the oldest part of the church. Eight high pillars divide the church interior into 3 naves. There are many valuable 16th-century wall paintings in Bernardine church and the oldest known artistic Lithuanian crucifix sculpture from the 15th century.  The walls of the naves are decorated with Gothic polychrome frescoes, partly uncovered in 1981 - dynamic, colourful figural compositions on biblical and hagiographic themes, with occasional inscriptions in Gothic characters, floral ornaments, heraldic insignia etc. These mural paintings date from the early 16th century and are considered unique in the world: their composition and type of presentation of the subject matter belongs to Renaissance, and the stylistics - to the Gothic style.  The Bernardine monastery north of the church, built simultaneously with the church, was renovated and reconstructed several times. Since its founding, a novitiate and a seminary operated at the monastery, a rich library had been accumulated, and a scriptorium operated. There artists, craftsmen and organists among the monks. The monastery was closed in 1864, and the building housed soldiers' barracks. In 1919 it was given to the art faculty of the university, later - to the Art Institute (now the Art Academy).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Vilnius.|
- "Istorija (Lithuanian)". Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- Prof. Tomas Venclova. VILNIUS; R. Paknys Publishing House, ISBN 9986-830-48-6