The Church of Peace in Świdnica
Text from The Church of Peace in Świdnica visitors brochure
The Holy Trinity Church of Peace
We heartily welcome you to the Church of Peace, the Church of The Holy Trinity, which belongs to the Lutheran Parish of Świdnica. It is a monument with historical and artistic significance, not only for Poland, but for Europe.
On stipulations of The Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years' War, the emperor Ferdinand III was obliged by the Swedish to allow Evangelicals to erect the three so-called "Churches of Peace" in hereditary duchies in Jawor, Glogów and Świdnica - one church in each duchy. Habsburgs did not recognize the equality of the Catholic and Evangelie creed. They only treated the erection as a more or less enforced act of tolerance. The emperor's committees were created and they confiscated the churches in Silesia. In 1653/1654 in Świdnica and Jawor, in hereditary churches only, 250 churches were taken from Evangelicals. After many petitions sent to the Vienna court, on presenting the place of erection, on 13th August 1652 the emperor withheld his consent and 10 days later the site was marked out and transferred to the Otterau Office. The site was of a square shape (200 x 200 steps). The church itself was to have the dimensions of 100 steps of length and 50 steps of width. It was to be dedicated to The Holy Trinity.
According to the emperor's constructing conditions, the church was to be built outside the municipal ramparts with no belfry or bells. Only wood, sand, clay and straw were allowed to be used as construction materials. The most difficult condition was the fact that the church was to be built within one year. The first church to be built was the Church of Peace in Glogöw, which was consecrated on Christmas 1652. In Jawor the corner stone for The Church of Peace had been laid in April 1654, and on 30 September 1655 the rectangular church room was consecrated. During the construction of the Church of Peace in Świdnica it was possible to use the experience gained from the previous churches. In 1656 Świdnica inhabitants commissioned work to a Wroclawian engineer from Albrecht von Säbisch and a carpenter Andreas Kaemper. The corner stone had been laid on 23 August of the same year. On 24 June 1657 the first service was officiated.
The Świdnica church is a basilica created on a plan of a Greek cross. The main part of the 3-aisle church crosses is a 3-aisle transept in the center of the church. A sacristy was built in at the beginning of the main part. Later a Dead Room was added to the west part, a Wedding Room- to the south part, and a Field Room-to the north part. The carrying constructions of the building consist of wooden columns of the dimensions 30 x 50 to 40 x 50 cm. The main aisle is 44 m long and 10 m wide. A transverse aisle is 30 m long and 20 m wide. The height of the main aislc is 15 m. The church is of classical framework construction.
The Church of Peace covers an area of 1090 m3, and eau contain 7500 persons (3000 sitting places). Huge renovating works were conducted on the occasion of 200th anniversary, 50 years later extensive repairs were done. The framewerk construction was renovated, and a new vestibule was added from the South. Particular attention was paid to the restoration of paint.
The Świdnica Church of Peace is one of two of such objects preserved in Europe. So, it has an exceptional historical and artistic value. After World War II the number of believers of the Evangelical parish has decreased. About 120 parishioners were not able to bear costs of keeping the church. In recent years a few small conservative works could be conducted thanks to the financial support of the Gustav Adolf Church Foundation. In 1988 the German Center for Craftsmanship and Monuments Protection from Fulda got interested in the church. They conducted an inspection of framework construction. The Center manager Manfred Gerner drew attention to the catastrophic state of The Church of Peace, and gave some advice concerning the conservation and restoration. However, the discussions between the Parish, General Conservator of Monuments, Voivodeship Conservator, Toruń University, German Federal Ministry of Search and Technology and German Center for Conservation of Monuments didn't start until 1991.
The result of the talks was that the Federal Ministry of Search and Technology in Bonn, the Federal Foundation of Environment Protection in Osnabrück and Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation in Warsaw donated a pretty large amount of money. This allows to run search, conservation and restoration works in the church. The attention was paid not only to the church itself, but also to the whole Peace Square. The other objects are as follows: a church wall, a belfry, a cemetery, a presbytery, a sacristian's house, buildings of the former Protestant Lyceum (Lutherheim), a Widows' House, a house for priests celebrating their first masses, a cantor's house, and a render's house. At the moment we are getting donations from the Polish Ministry of Culture and Cultural Heritage, the Office of the Marshal of Lower Silesian Voivodship, the town of Świdnica and the German-Polish Foundation for Culture and Preservation of Historie Buildings and Monuments in Görlitz.
Works of sacral art
The Altar was created on the occasion of 100th anniversary of Church in 1752, built by Gotlfried August Hoffmann and a master of carpentry Grunwald. 1500 thalers were donated by a Swedish pottery master Peter Pauliander. Decorations of the altar were made by apainter from Świdnica Johann Caspor Kolewe. Above the altar mensa the bass-relief can be seen. It presents the Last Supper. Above it there are sculptures presenting Moses, Aaron, Jesus and John the Baptist, as well as the apostles Peter and Paul. On the six Corinthian columns rests a frieze with the inscription "Dies ist mein geliebter Son, an dem ich Wohlgefallen habe" ("This is my son, in whom I am well pleased", Mat. 3.17.). This inscription relates to the central part of the sculptures: Jesus and John the Baptist. On the altar dome, on a book with seven seals stands a lamb with a flag. The altar is surrounded by a gilded translucent balustrade of wood.
The Pulpit was founded by a paper mill owner Konrad Riediger. The old pulpit was changed for the first time in 1660. Another one was created in 1728 by an artistic carpenter Gottfried August Hoffman. We can admire it to this day. The pulpit standing in the north-eastern corner of a transept was consecrated in 1729 by a parson Benjamin Schmolke, who is also known as a creator of church songs. Above the entrance door of the pulpit there is a bass-relief with an effigy of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Stairs leading to the pulpit are adorned outside with three reliefs presenting The Oescent of the Holy Ghost, Golgota and Paradise. The balustrade is adorned with three sculptures - personifications of Creed, Hope and Love. The top is a figure of an angel announcing the Last Judgment. A plinth of the pulpit is ornamented with the inscription "Pietatis et liberitatis monumentum Conradio Riedigerianum" (Testimony of piety and generosity of Konrad Riediger). There is also a sand-glass on the pulpit, which measured the time of preaching in XIX century.
The manufacture of Gottfried Klose from Brzeg built organs with an excellent baroque prospect in the years 1666-1669. All organs are supported by athletes. One of the main reconstructions was made between 1776 and 1784 by the organ master Zeitzius from Frankenstein. The reconstruction consisted of adorning the instrument with moving figures of angels and an association of playing bell ringing. Due to numerous repairs, the big organs quite often did not work. Only in 1695 did Sigismund Ebersbach donate to the Church small and fine organs that were placed in the highest gallery above the altar. Thanks to an organ master from Jawor Christian Gottlieb Schlage, the Świdnica organs got their fin est form. In 1882 the instrument received a so-called "pneumatic structuren which facilitated play. In 1909 an electric supply was introduced and the instrument was separated from counter. Thanks to The Association for Preservation of Organs in Lower Silesia, in 1911 the instrument was renovated and now it is one of the most beautiful instruments in Lower Silesia.
THE GALLERY OF THE HOCHBERG FAMILY
Looking from the altar towards the main entrance one can notice the lavishly decorated and distinguishing with shape gallery of von Hochberg family. It was built around 1698 as a token of gratitude for the family of count jahann Heinrich van Hachberg who donated 2/3 of wood necessary to build the church, i.e. 2 thousand oaks. Coats of arms of Hochberg (on the right) and von Reuss (on the left) were placed on a balustrade. A plate commemorating count Hans Heinrich Hachberg was placed in the center.
PAINTINGS ON THE CEILING
The authors of the paintings on the ceiling are two painters from Świdnica Chrystian Süssenbach and Chrystian Kolitschky. The works lasted 3 years and were finished in 1696. The authors drew the theme from the last book of Holy Writ - Revelations of St. John. The exception is the central painting presenting The Holy Trinity. The church is divided into rooms, According to this division the paintings have been depicted as follows:
THE PAINTING ABOVE THE ALTAR ROOM
The painting above the altar room presents Heavenly Jerusalem according to Revelations of St. John 21-22. Silhouettes on both sides of the painting are the angel and apostle John.
THE PAINTING ABOVE THE DEAD ROOM
The painting above the dead room (in front of the big organs) concerns 5th chapter of Revelations: God the Father whose head, is surrounded by seven flames of fire and above which flies an eagle. God the Father holds a book on his laps with seven seals on which rests a lamb. 24 old men kneel around. Below one can see the praying St. John.
THE PAINTING ABOVE THE WEDDING ROOM
The painting above the wedding room is a picture of 14th chapter of Revelation of St. John. The theme is the fall of sinful Babylon. There is a lamb above and redeemed people praying to him. Christ sits on the throne on a cloud with a seal (verse 14). An angel standing next to him holds an opened book in which the inscription "Ewiges Evangelium" (Eternal Gospel) is seen. Below the painting there is the falling Babylon threatened by a flood from the left side.
THE PAINTING ABOVE THE FIELD ROOM
The painting above the field room relates to 20th chapter of Revelations and presents the Last Judgement. Jesus on an arc of a rainbow surrounded by the saved and angels. In the lower part, the angel is calling to rise from the dead and pointing to some people the way to Heaven, and to the other - the way to hell.
Galleries on a whole length are covered with 78 texts of Biblical verses and allegorical scenes. Paintings are painted on boards and illustrate the meaning of nearby Biblical citations. Balustrades of galleries are richly decorated with sculptures and paintings. Other decorative elements are guild plates of bakers, brewers, butchers, clothiers, portraits of burghers and gentry as well as epitaphs.
THE BAPTISM ROOM
The baptism room is a spacious room behind the altar where a wooden polychrome font stands, the work of Ponkratlus Werner from Hirschberg of 1661. The upper part of the font is adorned by gilded carpentry presenting the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. The font is a gift of noble families von Nostiz, Berger, Ezettritz, Sommerfeld, Rotkirch and Ratschin whose names and coats of arms are placed on six sides of basis. The lower part of the font basin is adorned by six coffers with coats of arms of founders. Portraits of clergymen who officiated masses in the Church are placed on the walls of the Wedding Room. A preserved confessional testifies about earlier practiced individual confession. In the Wedding Room there is a glassed armoire containing liturgical chasubles used till the end of XIX century.
The belfry was built in 1708 at a distance of 50 m from the Church of Peace. The first three bells were cast on 4 October 1708 in a family of Götz brothers in Wroclaw. In 1714 a tower with a small bell was added in the Church of Peace. At the beginning and at the end of the mass first the small bell sounded, and later the big ones followed.
A very important moment in the newest history of the church was entering the church to a list of World heritage of cultural values of mankind in Finland on 13 December 2001. It is honorable nobility not only of the object itself but also of the region and Poland.
An important cultural event is the International Bach Festival at the end of July.