Kościół Łaski - Church of Grace

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Jelenia Gora, Poland

Kościół Łaski - Church of Grace Jelenia Gora Reviews

Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Jaw-Dropping Lutheran Baroque: Church of Grace in Jelenia Góra Sep 20, 2017
Protestant churches are all bland and simple? Come on! No, they’re not… One of the most remarkable examples of Lutheran baroque church architecture and art can be found in Jelenia Góra.

After the 30 Year War and the Westphalian Peace Treaty, the Protestants of Silesia had been allowed to build a total of 3 (three) churches by the Catholic Habsburg rulers. These were the so-called Peace Churches in Świdnica (Schweidnitz), Jawor (Jauer) and Głogów (Glogau). The ones in Świdnica and Jawor are still standing. I have visited both and intend to present them in this blog at some point.

However, it is not difficult to imagine that three churches are not very many for a whole country, to put it mildly. Some 60 years later the Emperor was forced to make more concessions. The Altranstädt Convention in 1707, a treaty with the Swedish King that ended the Nordic War, granted the Silesian Lutherans the building of six more churches. These still had to be built outside the towns, but the previous restrictions (perishable materials like wood and clay, no steeples, no representative architecture on the outside, etc.) were lifted. These new churches became known as Churches of Grace. The “grace” was expensive, though, as high sums had to be paid in return to the Emperor as well as the Swedish king.

The citizens of Hirschberg acted quickly. They employed the architect Martin Frantz from Legnica (Liegnitz) to design a church after the model of Katarina kyrka in Stockholm: a building in the shape of a Greek cross with a dome and lantern in the middle. Works began in 1709. After nine years the new church was inaugurated in 1718. The result deserves any imaginable superlative!

After World War II and the expulsion of the German population, hardly any Lutherans were left. The Church of Grace became the Catholic Parish Church of the Elevation of the Cross and Garrison Church. The Catholics did not change much, though. The Lutheran iconography with its biblical images was perfectly suitable. A tabernacle and the eternal light were added to the main altar. Side chapels were equipped with additional altars, reliquaries, a couple of new paintings and stained-glass windows themed on catholic saints. Pope John Paul, of course.

Practical hints:

Opening hours: April 1 – October 31

Monday – Thursday and Saturday 10:00 – 16:00

Friday 12:00 – 16:00

Entrance: through Punkt pielgrzymkowy, the information desk for pilgrims and visitors, in the western wing

Entrance fee: 4 PLN or 1 €

Churchyard, park and cemetery are accessible all day for free.

More on the website of the parish: http://www.kosciolgarnizonowy.pl/ (in Polish)
Church of Grace
Fresco in the central vault
Church of Grace
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Kathrin, congrats on your featured review. Well done.
Posted on: Oct 23, 2017
Paulovic says:
Congrats on your featured review!
Posted on: Oct 23, 2017
AdamR3723 says:
Most interesting!
Posted on: Oct 23, 2017
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Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
The Cemetery and Burial Chapels: Where Hirschberg’s Upper 10,000 were buried Sep 20, 2017
The cemetery around Church of Grace, the formerly Lutheran church, is not active any more. The grounds have been transformed into a public park, accessible for free all day. A walk round the park should not be missed because of the baroque mausoleums.

Burial chapels of rich families are lined up along the wall that surrounds the cemetery. Some were noble, but most of them were wealthy citizens of the town. A monumental gravesite must have been a symbol of status. They were designed and decorated with all splendour, as this anecdote tells:

When the austere Prussian King Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) visited Hirschberg after his conquering of Silesia, he was very astonished to see all those little “palaces” around the church. He believed that these were little palaces where the citizens of the town spent their leisure time. First thing he did was forbidding such “unnecessary luxury”.

Hirschberg owed its wealth to the production and trade of cloth and veils. Cloth merchants had their tombstones decorated with stone-carved textiles, as if a veil or a curtain was hanging over the stone. Elaborate works of stone-masonry they are.

A closer look at the details is recommended. A couple of chapels are decorated in a rather macabre way. Stone-carved skeletons, skulls and bones are part of the ornaments on the facades.

After long years of neglect, a recent project has taken to the restoration of the burial chapels and the preserved tombstones. The works were finished in 2013. In addition to the chapels, tombstones and grave monuments not only from Jelenia Góra but also from the surroundings are on exhibit along the stretches of wall in between. Explanations are provided in four languages (Polish, German, English and Czech).

A tombstone on the wall of the church tells us about the dramatic death of a preacher in the year 1745. Pastor Gottlob Adolph was standing on the pulpit holding the Sunday afternoon sermon when lightning struck the church. The heavy sounding board above the pulpit fell off and killed him. (Can’t help but wonder if this was a divine judgement? Were his sermons too long? Too boring? Too hard to understand?)
Baroque burial chapels in the Luth…
Tombstones along the wall

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photo by: Kathrin_E