Church of Peace
Last day before Christmas leave.
Not so much stress though. We will spend Christmas in Warsaw with our daughters arriving from Sweden. And my brother in law with his family. And my own brother. Additionally some very close friends from Stockholm will join us for New Year’s celebrations.
So no packing. Just enjoying Christmas in Warsaw – every night admiring the lights reaching us from Aleje Ujazdowskie and from the Belvedere Palace.
There are certainly some activities still ongoing. Yesterday I had i.a. a meeting with General Stanislaw Koziej at the National Bureau of Security – extremely informative on Polish security policy.
Continuing to a Christmas lunch with our Embassy staff and later on to a house warming party in the new premises of the Swedish Trade Council – now really being located in the centre of the city at Czaskiego.
This morning started with a test in Polish after having finished the second part of my lessons and the second textbook. And this afternoon the Polish EU Minister Dowgielewicz has invited all EU Ambassadors to lunch to summarize the Polish EU Presidency. A great job very well done, that’s for sure. I hope he and his colleagues now will get some very well deserved rest after some rather exhausting months behind them.
However, my thoughts tend to return to Swidnica.
The story behind the Church of Peace that I visited Friday is quite remarkable.
As a result of the Westphalian Peace 1648 it was agreed, after some pressure from the Swedish Queen, that three Lutheran churches would be constructed. But the Emperor Ferdinand III demanded in his turn that only wood and clay could be used – and no nails. The idea behind was obviously to see them eventually disappear. However, two of them did not. One in Jawor and one in Swidnica – now on the UNESCO World Heritage List. http://www.kosciolpokoju.pl/en.php
Money for the construction was raised during a journey to Sweden by a certain Christian Czepko, son of the the Lutheran vicar in Swidnica at the time. So there are several links to Sweden.
One more link was added May 6th this year when the King and Queen made a visit to the church.
And my journey this Friday was partly connected to that, since I was asked to inaugurate a plate commemorating the Royal visit. Even more important though was the fact that we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the inclusion of the church on the UNESCO list. I was extremely well taken care of by i.a. the President of Swidnica Wojciech Murdzek and the Vicar Waldemar Pytel.
I must admit I was stunned by the beauty of the church. The interior is simply amazing. I do not know what I had expected. Probably something smaller. Now I was told that this is the biggest wooden church in the world with space for 7500 people.
And every single corner, every single element inside appears to me to be a piece of art. Additionally, the atmosphere is unforgettable. The Church deserves its name – it is really a Church of Peace in the true sense of the word.
I also got the opportunity to visit an exhibition of photography by the wife of the vicar Bozena Pytel – amazingly well capturing the spirit of the church.
I did not get the opportunity though to see much of the Christmas fair in the City centre, though it looked tempting at distance.
One more of many good reasons to go back to Swidnica.