Saints Peter and Paul’s Church in Gdańsk

In 1456 the Bishop of Kuyavia founded an independent parish here. Since 1945 it has served Roman and Armenian Catholics. In 1436 a parish school was established by the church, priding itself on a high level of education and enjoying widespread popularity well into the early 20th Century. In 1622-1945 it was the main church for the Evangelical Reformed Church in Gdańsk. The building hosted services in Polish, English, French and German.

It was burned down in 1945. During the siege of Gdańsk the church was bombed, and, later on, set on fire by Red Army soldiers. It caused the roof structures of the presbytery, the southern aisle, and, to some extent, the nave, to collapse. The majority of vaults also caved in. Three pillars between the aisles were destroyed. Reconstruction works have been in process into the present day.

As a result of fires, bombings, adaptations for industrial purposes, and the fact that the church was a Calvinistic temple for over 300 years, the lion’s share of its furnishings did not survive to modern times.

Among the noteworthy highlights is the Uphagen’s Chapel with the surviving epitaph in antique form and wooden housing in the Rococo style. Another valuable item is an exquisite collection of chandeliers dating back to the 17th Century that was saved from ruin. In the presbytery a Baroque high altar is being reconstructed to house 60% of authentic details, including a Baroque painting of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The northern aisle has a Renaissance stall from the seventeenth century.

Renovation works are being carried out on some 60 tombstones. The church interior holds elements of Baroque woodcarving. Further plans include the reproduction of the musical gallery in the southern aisle, employing parts of authentic woodwork. The finish of the northern aisle has preserved a Gothic baptismal font originating in the 15th Century.

Saints Peter and Paul’s Church is located in the vicinity of a high school where prospective master bakers and confectioners are trained. In consequence, bakers and confectioners from Gdańsk put forward an initiative to assemble the Polish Bakers’ Guilds in a joint effort to build the altar of St. Clemens Maria Hofbauer – the Patron Saint of bakers and confectioners. The ceremony consecrating the Hofbauer monument took place on 13 August 2006.

Another place to testify the traces of cultural diversity characteristic of Gdańsk’s history is the church on Żabi Kruk Street. It contains the tomb of the great Anthonis van Obbergen, a Finnish architect and builder responsible for such magnificent structures as the Old Arsenal and the Old City Hall. Here, you can also find epitaphs of the Scottish family of Davisons, a member of which, Daniel Davison, was married to a granddaughter of Johannes Hevelius. Other groups of Scots buried in Saints Peter and Paul’s Church are the Turners and the Moores.

What Gdańsk has in common with remote Armenia is the presence of an Armenian community, which has its own chapel in the Saints Peter and Paul’s Church. The chapel features a painting of the Weeping Madonna, brought in the 1950s from the former Stanisławowo (present-day Ivano-Frankivsk) by Rev. Kazimierz Filipiak, Vicar General for Armenian Catholics in Poland. Close by the Gothic wall of the church, in the so-called Armenian Alley (Zaułek Ormiański), there is a khachkar, a stone cross from Armenia, symbolising the relationship between Poland and Armenia.

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