Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church
The first, the biggest, the highest. However, let's talk about everything gradually.
Nowadays, few people can imagine the modern world without urbanization, without the constant expansion of cities.
A few hundred years ago, the Garrison Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul was on the outskirts of the city, just under the city walls. Behind them – only the Poltva river.
Today, the Jesuit Church is located in the very heart of Lviv, next to Rynok Square and Svobody Avenue.
The Garrison Church of Saints Peter and Paul is the first baroque building in Lviv. Its consecration, at that time the Jesuit Church, took place in 1630. As was customary among the Jesuits, there was also an educational institution – the Jesuit College. The fact that Bohdan Khmelnytsky, perhaps the most famous hetman of Cossack Ukraine, studied at the institution speaks for itself. Another "celebrity" student – is Prince Yarema Vyshnevetsky. The university was later founded on the basis of the college. It is now named after Ivan Franko.
By the way, in the 18th century, the bell tower complemented the ensemble of the temple, which was the tallest in Lviv at the time, even taller than the Town Hall!
However, war destroys everything. It also destroys sacred buildings. The same thing happened with the Jesuit Church in Lviv. In 1946, the Jesuits left their monastery, the city, and took the crowned icon of the Blessed Virgin with them. It is now located in Wroclaw.
From that time, for 65 years, the temple was in some kind of coma. Although the church was banned as an institution during the Soviet era, the church played a different role – there was a book depository of the Vasyl Stefanyk Lviv Scientific Library. There were about three million books here.
In 2011, the church was opened and consecrated again. Now we know it as the Garrison Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
If you are interested in Lviv, in architecture, sculpture, or just were attentive during city tours, you could hear the names of Giacomo Briano, Johann Jan Pfister, and Antonio Popel. These artists made, in particular, a lot of effort to build and decorate the Garrison Temple. Let's talk about one of the architects – Giacomo Briano.
There is a version that the Italian Giacomo Briano built a church on the model of The Church of the Gesù in Rome. Indeed, we see their external similarities. However, can we undoubtedly accept this version?
Before construction began, Giacomo Briano developed about 10 different designs for the possible appearance of the church. Most of them have been preserved to this day, although they are located in Vienna and Los Angeles. Therefore, despite their similarities, this version is not completely reliable.
By the way, the same architect designed the church in Lutsk, which is also consecrated in the names of Saints Peter and Paul, and offers to visit the basement of the church. In addition to the churches of Saints Peter and Paul in Lviv and Lutsk, Giacomo Briano also worked in Poland (then The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth), his native Italy, and Croatia. Researchers highlight his approach to creating projects, especially the focus on detail. It seems that Briano made many efforts to develop the architecture of that time. In some samples - no doubt, but what about the general context?
If you believe all the stereotypes, you can definitely call Giacomo Briano Italian. He had a complex character, loved, and knew how to conflict. That is why his work on the sites did not always last long.
Another question worth mentioning here – was Briano the only architect of the Jesuit church? Probably not. Here is why. The architect moved to Lviv 6 years after the start of construction, and under such conditions, it would be almost impossible to work on the creation of the church alone. Who else helped the artist, unfortunately, remains unknown.
Temperamental, attentive, and incredibly talented – this conclusion can be drawn from the information and research we have about the architect. For a more detailed understanding of his work, we invite you to visit his creations, in particular in Lviv.
When you are in the temple, do not rush out as soon as you have a light look at the interior. Stop, linger, and inspect the temple in detail. Here you can discover the whole universe – the universe of decoration, sculpture, and frescoes.
The walls and ceiling of the church tell us world history, tell about the events of the Old and New Testaments, describe scenes from the lives of Saints Peter and Paul, and depict Lviv at that time.
The frescoes of the church are the work of the Moravian masters Francis and Sebastian Eckstein. The paintings are undoubtedly impressive in their craftsmanship and color, but not only. The topic is also interesting. On the altar, in particular, we can see the image of the map of the world and representatives of different continents. Who else but the Jesuits could find such motives? The Order had wide geography of structures, and therefore had a good idea of the general picture of the world.
Notice the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The cross is carved from special dark wood, so it used to be called the Black Christ. This tree is quite expensive, and in Soviet times, this crucifix was even wanted to be taken to the St. Petersburg Hermitage. In the Soviet atheistic St. Petersburg Hermitage. Therefore, we can imagine the value of this monument.
If you lack emotions, walk through the temple and look intently at the space on the right. You may come across a small surprise – a decorative coffin with the monogram of the Virgin.
For those for whom this is not enough – we invite you to go to the next location.
There is a whole unit in the temple complex, the team of which organizes excursions through the dungeons and choirs of the church, and sometimes conducts thematic events in the space.
Read more about the Jesuit dungeons here
After a long break, in 2011 the church was opened on December 6 – the 20th anniversary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Therefore, he continued his work and mission as a garrison.
The rector of the church is now Taras Mykhalchuk, who also heads the center for Military Chaplaincy of the Archdiocese of Lviv of the UGCC.
This church is a place of prayer for the Ukrainian military. It plays a special role for them. Here they get married, here they baptize children, and from here they set out on their last journey. This place is the center of volunteer and social projects, and a memorial plaque was erected to commemorate the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred.
At the same time, it is a place of strength not only for the military but also for ordinary Lviv residents.
The garrison church of the holy apostles Peter and Paul has seen a lot during his life. He saw the life of the city and its environs, saw wars and weddings, monks in prayer, crowds of tourists on excursions through the dungeons, and saw hetmans with kings and loyal soldiers.
After decades of destruction and damage, wars, and inappropriate treatment, the temple is resurrected. The complete restoration of the church is not yet complete and there is still a lot of work to be done, but we can already see the first and significant results.
The temple also has a great mission: it unites the military, as well as those who care for orphans, students, and prisoners.
Isn't that what the Church should be?