About a miracle in the heart of Kaunas - St. Gertrude church 4

Laura Rimkutė
www.kamane.lt, 2015-04-02
St. Gertrude church from the J. Gruodis street

In brief: Probably every resident of Kaunas, who rushes daily on a Liberty Avenue knows that after you go through a gateway near the Kaunas District Court building, you end up in a place that has a special aura. Surrounded with tall buildings from every side, there stands a small, patina marked church, which creates a unique atmosphere. No matter how hidden, St. Gertrude church is almost never empty. Let’s see why this place attract people so much for more than one century.

It is one of the oldest and most original gothic churches in Lithuania. It is believed that this church was bricked in the second half of the 15th century, and its tower in the beginning of the 16th century. First written knowledge of it goes to 1503 when Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander appointed the church to the Kaunas parish church, even though St. Gertrude church did not belong to the city of Kaunas. In the end of 18th century a wooden hospital was built next to the church and monks of the order of St. Roch were housed. Their rule had ordered them to care for poor and sick. Later on, monks received various foundations and renewed the church. At the end of the nave they had built an organ and set a room for a pastor in the tower.

The biggest architectural value of the church is that its gothic architecture has not changed significantly over the past 500 years. Repairs and reconstructions have not destroyed the authenticity, only complimented it with characteristics from other styles. Therefore, this church is a valuable witness of the gothic style, able to prompt about the architectural building features of that time.

Church interior (altar, pulpit, choir on two pillars, decorated with plaster statues and molds) was installed by St. Roch monks in 1785–1794. This wonderfully restored late baroque ensemble is the main focus of the church interior.

Massive cross with a sculpture of the crucified Christ in the center of the church is of the highest value. This cross has long been famous for its graces. Sisters of charity put the cross with a sculpture into the chapel, built in a church tower in 1850. It was transferred from a Lord Jesus chapel that stood in the currently Ožeškienės street. Although the cross does not have a great artistic value and its material value is only its age, but in the spiritual sense it is one of the most valuable movable heritage objects in Kaunas.

Soviet times maliciously snatched this uniqueness of the church, turning it into a simple drug warehouse and the monastery - into Communist Party premises. Because of that, despite of all the spiritual values, the church acquired a kind of political flavor, impacting the creation of Lithuanian independence.

St. Gertrude church - with its own history, having experienced many hardships has its miraculous aura and continues to be a lee for all the people who cannot find their way. Some go there to find peace, others to pray for their relatives, and yet others in hope for a miracle. That is why this church and its candle shrine is extraordinary. It allows us to hope that miracles are near we simply need to believe in them.

Photos by Laura Rimkutė

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