The Jesuit Church of St. Casimir

In front of the Town Hall square, near the most attended  Vokiečių (German) and Pilies (Castle)  streets in Vilnius, the astonishing baroque masterpiece stands for more than 400 years already. It is the beautiful church of St. Casimir. It is not only a place to pray for congregation, but also a sanctum of sacral music and art.

 

History

The first angular stone for this church was lied and sanctified in 1604. Building was financed by  the Grand Duke Žygimantas the third, famous civil servant Leonas Sapiega and others. Building works were organized according to indications of Jesuits. In 1635 it was already consecrated, thus worship was held there earlier. Survived many fires, once extremely damaged when Russian military forces occupied Vilnius city, the church proudly stands till nowadays.

After a very big fire in 1749 the church was rebuilt and reconstructed by Jesuit architect Tomas Žebrauskas, who formed the unique setoff cupola.  In 1773 the Jesuitical party was packed off and the church was taken by priests augustins. In 1812 French army of Napoleon used the church as a grain store, altars and other religious relicts were destroyed. Later priests missioners fixed the damage and reestablished new altars. In 1832 these benefactors were expelled and the beautiful church stood empty and derelict for several years. In 1841 Russian government disposed the church to orthodox community and the church was reformed into more orthodox style. in 1915 German military forces established there Lutheran prier home and in 1917 it was finally restored to catholic community. Since 1940 till 1949 when it was closed again by soviets, and transformed into simple vine storage, Jesuits worked here and took care about the church. Only in 1988 the church of St. Casimir was returned to congregation.

Nowadays

As it was already mentioned, the church nowadays is a holy place where prayers and sounds of music and religious art works are alive. In recent years it`s colorful history influenced one very unexpected event in 1991 when an absolutely new crypt of 6 meters height and 18 meters length was found under the big altar. The mystic crypt uncovered old religious paintings. Scientist revealed that the crypt was used as a cemetery for monks, so the blessed atmosphere nowadays is even more reasonable.  Moreover, visitors of this church can enjoy the authentic sounds of wind music as in 1997 the installation of tubing was constructed in both towers of the church. Installations contain 15 tubes of different tones among which a special disk and a sail hover. Whenever the wind blows, different sounds are obtained depending on the strength and course of the whiff. Inside the church there are 3 altars of late baroque style decorated with unique paintings of saints. For sure, because of the beauty inside and outside the church, it is declared to be one of the most beautiful baroque monuments in Lithuania not without reason.

This church now stands mostly through Jesuits. Historically this party was a significant power of good in Lithuania. It established Vilnius university, some colleges, schools, made many reasonable steps in regaining Lithuanian nationalism and till nowadays implements religious and educative works in Lithuania. Thus, the church of St. Casimir can be considered as one of the most significant monuments not only for baroque, but also for Jesuits.