Church of Skaistkalne
Location: N56° 22` 48.3", E24° 38` 33.7"
Skaistkalne Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church built by Jesuit order is the most outstanding architecture monument of early baroque style. Up until the beginning of the 18th century this church was the biggest and most luxurious church in Latvia.
The first wooden church in Skaistkalne was built in 1658. The construction of this church is connected with a legend about the owner of Skaistkalne manor – Johann von Berg-Carmel who lost his sight and then miraculously got the sight back, so honoring this event he promised to build a church with his funds.
The construction of the grand stone cathedral in Skaistkalne was started in 80ties of the 17th century and in 1692 this unusually large and luxurious building was completed. The completion year can be read above the central entrance of the church, by the Jesuit order motto «AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM» (Glory of God).
The first Skaistkalne Catholic church was maintained by Jesuits starting from 1660, who later in 1666 created a permanent mission. Jesuit monastery was baptized here in 1677.
Skaistkalne church is one of the largest and most magnificent country churches in Latvia. The large three-sphere basilica in the while color, whose two magnificent size towers were raising until their destruction during the World War II, was one of the first early baroque two tower cathedral style churches in Latvia. It became the example for a chain of Catholic churches later built in Latgale.
Inner premises of the church also are unique example of Italic baroque for Latvia, where juicy architectural forms (valves, massive pillars, rich profiled cornices, etc.) are richly supplemented by relief stucco decoration and decorative painting.
The huge, approximately 12m high, wood cut altar was constructed together with the church. The altarpiece which can be seen today – a copy of P.P.Rubens painting “Christ on the cross” was made in 19th century. According to tradition of Jesuits, there are also wooden cut figurines in altar of Jesuit order founder Ignatius Lojola and Francis Qaviera.
Church pulpit podium is decorated with wooden cut busts of Christ and Holy Mother, and angel figurines. The figurine of woman holding a goblet who is basing the podium symbolizes the Holy Church. A beautiful baroque style organ prospect is placed on the wide luktas. Church stools made of oak in a rustical rococo style can be seen in middle area of the church, and they were made around 1743.
Many aristocrats have chosen basements of the majestic cathedral ad their resting -place – Vidzeme General Governors Pether Lasi (1678-1751) and Jorge Brown (1698-1792), Vidzeme, Estonia, Kurzeme and Plskow General Governor’s Philipo Pauluchi wife, etc. Several commanders, surrounding nobles and Catholic priests are also buried here. It is possible to see the catacombs in valves of the church in supervision of monks.