Church of St. Nicholas, Vilnius

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The Church of St Nicholas
Šv. Mikalojaus bažnyčia
Mikalojus Church.jpg
St. Nicholas Church
54°40′42″N 25°16′58″E / 54.6783°N 25.2828°E / 54.6783; 25.2828Coordinates: 54°40′42″N 25°16′58″E / 54.6783°N 25.2828°E / 54.6783; 25.2828
CountryLithuania
DenominationRoman Catholic
History
StatusActive
FoundedBefore 1387
Architecture
Functional statusChurch
Architectural typeChurch
StyleGothic architecture
Administration
ArchdioceseVilnius
Clergy
ArchbishopGintaras Grušas

St. Nicholas Church (Lithuanian: Šv. Mikalojaus bažnyčia) is the oldest surviving church in Lithuania, built in the Old Town of the capital city Vilnius.

History[edit]

Originally built in the 14th century, the church is mentioned in writing for the first time in 1387. In 1901-39 the Church of St. Nicholas was the only church in Vilnius where the mass was held in Lithuanian. By the same token it was a centre of Lithuanian culture (its famous dean Kristupas Čibiras was killed in 1942 during a bombing raid).[1]

In the 1920s to 1940s, sermons in Belarusian language were also held in the church by famous priests including Adam Stankievič, Vincent Hadleŭski, Jazep Hiermanovič, Kazimir Svajak.[2]

During the Soviet occupation a statue of the patron of Vilnius, St. Christopher, was erected in the church orchard (sculptor Antanas Kmieliauskas, 1959); it was an obvious act of resistance, as the city's coat-of-arms with St. Christopher's figure was banned at that time.

Architecture[edit]

Archaeologists believe that the same Roman Catholic church survived till the present day. Externally, the church represents the Brick Gothic style, while its interior has been renovated several times. The church belfry was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. Its façade is flanked by two stocky buttresses with cut-off tops. The triangular pediment with niches has been recently renovated accentuating its original Gothic character. In the interior, four elegant octahedral pillars support web and star vaults. The high altar holds a painting of St. Nicholas with a silver setting from the 16th century. The church is adorned with two sculptures: a polychrome statue of St. Louis from the Gothic period, and Vytautas' bronze bust erected in 1930 (sculptor Rapolas Jakimavičius).

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prof. Tomas Venclova, Vilnius. R. Paknys Publishing House, ISBN 9986-830-48-6
  2. ^ Viktar Korbut. Vilnius — Vilnya: capital of Lithuania in Belarusian history, Sovetskaya Belorussiya – Belarus' Segodnya, 11 May 2015. Quote: "The site of St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, built in the early 16th century. From 1901-1939, it was the only church in Vilnya where sermons were read in Lithuanian. From 1901-1906, its priest was Juozapas Kukta. The building kept a secret collection of editions published by Martin Kukhta’s publishing house. From 1921, services were offered each Sunday at 10am, with Belarusian language sermons. Until 1940, priest Adam Stankevich served there and, in the 1920s, its priests included Konstantin Stepovich (Kazimir Svayak), Wincenty Godlewski and Yazep Germanovich."