- January 10, 2014
Parish Profile: St. Peter and St. Paul Communion
It was pretty quiet, but not so pleasant morning on the cusp of autumn and winter. It was early, because already at 7:30 I was taking part in a mass in the Vilnius church of St. Peter and St. Paul. It was celebrated by a Vilnius nestor, pr. Antoni Dilys.
No, there was not a loads of people due to the early hours. The most of them were the elderly, however, there were also a few younger.
It was not the first time when I was moved by the sermons of pr. Antoni. His devotion during the celebration of the Eucharist has been astonishing. This time it was the same. Although on the surface it might have seemed simple, it went deeply into the heart of the ordinary believer.
However, it is just a prelude. As being obliged to write about the whole parish, I turned to parish priest, Edvardas Rydzikas, and to vicar apostolic, Andrzej Byliński. I asked them many questions such as: “How many member the perish has? How many people attend the Sunday Mass? What is the church community concerned with? Etc.”
– There is 40 thousand citizens in this place, but it does not mean that all of them are believers. Every Sunday about 3 or 4 thousand people attend the Lithuanian and Polish mass – says parish priest, Edvardas Rydzikas.
– Although is not too many, I do judge my parish positively. Many people (mostly the elderly) are fully committed to church. On their example, the life of youths is being built – adds parish priest.
Parish dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul has many priests, a six ones. It might seem as a luxury. Parish priest has people to “do the work”.
Everyone has their hands full of work and there is none who should be rushed. When it comes to the figure of pr. Andrzej, I have to “keep him on a leash”. He has many ideas and initiatives that I cannot keep up with him – parish priest adds humorously. After all, there is 5 hospitals, 2 orphanages, schools, preschools that needs help. What is more, “Caritas” and “Betania” canteen may need a closer look and etc. I was moved by the way parish priest was talking about elderly people: with love, cheerful smile and respect. He talked about their devotion, the way they help in church if they can, or even beside the church if there is need to. It is undeniable fact that he values such “contingent”. Unfortunately, it is not common due to the fact that such people, caring about the church, are called odd bigots. Nevertheless, let it stay in conscience of those who says so.
Meanwhile, pr. Andrzej is more connected with teenagers, who have liked him since the first day of his presence here (it does not mean that he is not working with the elderly). He gained this good contact with youths while he was a deacon in Vilnius Calvary 4 years ago. There is no division here into older and younger generation. It has been discovered, that the joint meetings connected to different fields, which have been organised here very often, are really successful.
Since the opinions about contemporary youths are not always flattering, what can be said about them? Teenagers has always been the same and they will always remain the same. They will posess those habits and values, which they get out of home and the nearest surrounding – says pr. Andrzej. He does not complain about contemporary youths, quite the opposite, he is able to see something good in each child and each young person. It makes him “want to dance”. He never begins his cooperation with children or youth with a proverbial chaplet. In the spiritual life, according to priest, you cannot do anything by force or hastily. Everything needs time and patience. Similarly in nature, tress or flowers do not blossom overnight or vegetables do not sprout in patches. It needs time and maintenance.
Youths should also grow up sufficiently in order to discover their faith and morality, and they will. They need delicate and workmanlike guidance. I believe that I have achieved here a little bit. Youths more gladly kneel to tell their beads. Few days ago, we have got a gorge around-the-clock adoration – adds pr. Andrzej.
Before Christmas, together with young and older people, they have prepared 500 packets of sweets for children from poor families. They have also organized many other meetings. It is uncountable how much joy, joking, laughter or even singing there was. Near church, in the basement, teenagers and priest organized St. Valentine’s Day last year. They participated in the Youth Days in Szumsk, Cecyliada and Landwarów and the have also took part in the basketball games during the altar boy tournament in the Vilnius diocese. They have been to Legnica in Poland, Germany, Belgium, TAIZE in France, Switzerland and Latvia. It is impossible to name all of it. Now, I remind myself about the Jerzy Libert’s poem, which was quoted by pr. Andrzej Byliński just before his ordination.
You’ve reached me, heavenly Horseman
You’ve trampled, You’ve stomped on me
I’ve fallen bruised, sliced with grace
Just like a smoke by the gale bend
So one has to pass through itself
Your words, trust yourself to them –
If indispensable, trample till the bottom
I am only your soldier.
Indeed, he was trampled till the bottom, but trampled with a great grace given him from heaven. The fruits of it are already visible.
History of The Church
St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Vilnius – a baroque Roman Catholic church located in the Antalkalis, today’s Vilnius neighborhood of the city.
The first wooden church was built on this location when Władysław Jagiełło was the king. However, in 1594, it was destroyed by fire. Rebuild in 1609–1616, with the charge given to the capitular Lateran priests brought from Cracow, was destroyed again during the Russia forage in 1655.
Present construction of the church, along with Augustinian monastery, was funded by the Great Lithuanian Hetman Michał Kazimierz Pac, who was one of the most significant Lithuanian baron of second half of 17th century. One of the many hypothesis of the temple erection says that it was built as a vote of fortunate ending of war with Russia and deliverance Vilnius from occupiers. The structure started being built in 1668, after the foundation stone being brought from Cracow and blessed by Vilnius bishop Aleksander Kazimierz Sapiecha. The church was built according to the project of Cracow architect Jan Zaor from Kraków. He was supervising this project till 1672, when he was replaced Giovanni Battista Frediani. Approximately in1675, building of a church block was ended. It was the time when the first divine service was celebrated. Church decoration started at that time too, which resulted in unique mouldings of Pietro Peretti and Giovanni Gall (finally ended in 1684), and trompe l’oeil paintings of Michelangelo Palloni.
Architecture of church is not unique – its creator modeled himself on a church in Tarłów, near Opatów. It has three aisles on a plan of Latin cross, with lantern dome over the crossing of aisles. It is not architecture, but decorations, which are almost wholly composited by unique mouldings, that make the temple having a special place in the history of Polish art. Interior of temple is emblazoned by over two thousands stucco sculptures concerning Bible, mythology and history. One of the most interesting elements of decor is wonderful, crystal, boat-shaped chandelier (it is remembrance of the event when the main altar, with crystal columns ordered by Pac in Italy, sunk during the transport). Great Lithuanian Drum brought by Hetman Pac from Chocim after battle in 1673, placed in porch, is also original element.
There is no main altar in the church, but instead, there is a painting presenting farewell of St Peter and St Paul, painted by Franciszek Smuglewicz. Nearby, four sculptures of prophets: Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Elijah are visible.
Tłumaczenie by Beata Kanadys w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Beata Kanadys within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.