Muhu St. Catherine's Church
|Muhu St. Catherine's Church|
Muhu church, façade
|Founder(s)||Otto von Lutterberg|
The church was founded by the master of the Livonian Order Otto von Lutterberg in 1267. The founding of the church is mentioned in a medieval chronicle by Hermann von Wartberge. The first church was probably made of wood and only replaced by the current stone building in the final years of the 13th century. It was built in stages, with the walls of the nave constructed first. The master builders involved with building the nearby Karja church were apparently also at work here, as their builders' marks have been found in the stones used to construct the church. A window in the west wall and the base of the altar dates from this period. Somewhat later are the murals, and considerably later are both the pulpit (1629, by Balthasar Raschky) and the retable (1827).
The church has suffered tremendous damage throughout its history. It was damaged by fire in 1640, and in war during the Great Northern War. In 1941, the church was bombed in a German air raid and the roof destroyed, not to be replaced until 1958. This period without a proper roof, together with unprofessional attempts at restoration during the Soviet times, caused unrepairable damage to the murals of the church. Following Estonia's re-establishment of independence in 1991, a proper renovation was carried out with substantial financial aid from Sweden.
The church is one of the simplest in form of the medieval churches of the West Estonian archipelago. It is a single-nave church, with high whitewashed vaults and a simple choir, and lacking both tower and sacristy. The church also lacks the relatively rich carved-stone décor which can be found in comparable churches nearby, e.g. Valjala church. The most notable feature of the church is the mural paintings. These were discovered only in 1913, when plaster from the time of the Reformation was removed. The murals depict scenes from the Last Judgement. It is thought that the artist came from Gotland, as the murals show strong similarities with paintings from the island from the same time. The influence of Byzantine art is noticeable. Unfortunately, only fragments remain today.
- Viirand, Tiiu (2004). Estonia. Cultural Tourism. Kunst Publishers. p. 168. ISBN 9949407184.
- "St. Katherine's Church of Muhu". Saaremaa Museum. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Taylor, Neil (2010). Estonia (6 ed.). Bradt Travel Guides. p. 261. ISBN 9781841623207.
- "Muhu Church". Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Media related to Muhu church at Wikimedia Commons