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St. Peter’s and st. Paul’s church in Lviv
Jesuit’s church in Lviv

Translated by Dictum Factum (Kyiv)


This is one of the most mystic places in Lviv. Although for me, that have not been to the legendary caves of the Jesuit Monastery, is primarily a very aesthetic place. From all the kostels of Lviv, I like this almost the most - and I could not explain why, if I would be asked to. This is something at the level of feelings, no more and no less.

The kostel turned its back to the Avenue of Freedom and to the Shevchenko’s statue, with its faddy wave next to it. The kostel is also not looking at the bronze head of John the Horseshoe, situated near on a small area. Even a top of the town hall, which could be seen from this place, doesn’t deserve its attention. Lviv - on its own, the Jesuit church – on its. Maybe it is an insult, because in the nineteenth century it was deprived of the tower - one of the highest kostel town bells? Saying, that it is in an emergency condition and may collapse during the mass, do we need it?

They unfairly treated the oldest baroque church of the town (it was built in 1610-1630 by Jacopo Brian, an architect of the Jesuit order). Most likely not like this. Brian was ending the construction of the building, and under whose supervision the construction had begun, wasn’t known for certain. In 1613-1614, Sebastian Lamhius led the process of the church’s construction and Brian came to the town only in 1618, when the walls of the church had already been constructed by about a meter – one meter and a half (three elbows). The Italian processed the project of the church, a little bit altering its interior. But in general – it presents the same classic example, of Il Dzhezu church in Rome, the prototype for thousands of sacral buildings in Europe and America of that time.

They say that as soon as the church was built, a stranger came to monks, brought a considerable amount of money and asked to join the Order. The monks agreed, and soon this neophyte began boasting of his status and money. In response to the remarks that here everyone is equal, the gentleman continued to stick to his guns (bend his line): "I am above you. For that he was punished: the monks locked him in an underground cell. But even after this, he didn’t change his views.


The altar of St. Peter and Paul church in Lviv

One day a pale man in black entered the church, saying he can persuade the rebellious monk in total equality of everybody. It could be heard that the men in the cell were quarrelling, and when everything quietened, there were nobody in the cell. Only a piece of parchment in the corner ... Thus was born a legend of the Black Monk, who sold his soul to the devil. And about this later on.

Lviv’s church is traditionally tripartite, with feebly marked apse, from the outside. Side naves are narrower than a central nave - it is normal for a basilica. In order to preserve at least a little bit of space, galleries-matronea were built above the side naves.

I read that Jesuit churches were recognized exactly by the matronea. Maybe it is true. Other sources report that for Jesuits were typical separate chapels on both sides of the main nave, divided by transverse walls, but not the matronea. I don’t see great difference between the truth of these two versions.

The church with matronea or without it is gigantic. Length 41 m, height - 26 m, width - 22.5 meters. Jesuits were experts in making an impression - and earning money. When several brothers of the Order first appeared in Lviv in the XVIth century, they had no property at all. Even citizens didn’t treat them too kindly ... When by an order of the Austrian Emperor, the Order was canceled (1848), the property of Lviv’s Jesuits was appraised in one million of Thalers.

A tower, which we wouldn’t see any more and which was the highest in the city was built in 1702 according to the project of Walentyn Godny demolished in 1830.


Peter’s and Paul’s church played its role even in the history of Lviv’s beer. Once there was a passage that led to Jesuits warehouses from a street, but the street was very narrow (only 4 metres), and the warehouses’ gates were opening outside that hindered passers-by. So, the nearest brewery owner filed a complaint to the magistrate, seeking to force Jesuits to brick up the passage.


Old card

Monks were reluctant to comply with the Lviv’s citizens request, and wrote a counter-complaint. Saying, that a smoke, which rises above the area, when the beer is brewed in the brewery hinders them. Moreover, this smoke damages the frescoes of the church! Whether the magistrate could close the brewery, thereby preserving valuable wall-painting, and in this vacant building the monks would organize an orphanage? ... And this time the city followed vox populi - yes the brewery passed into the hands of Jesuits. However, they didn’t make any orphanage there, continuing to brew beer ...

After all this, is it surprising that Jesuits weren’t loved in the city and even several times were expelled from it? :) Even rumors of miraculous healing at the beginning of XVIIIth century, before the icon of Mary Consoler (this icon was taken to Wroclaw in 1946) of a terrible sinner, whom a burden of sins prevented from entering of any church - until the wretched person, who was searching for death a long time and almost vainly, heard a voice from the church of Apostles Peter and Paul, where he began to pray, and then died.


Another true story is recorded in the funds of manuscripts of Stefanik’s library: during the Mass in the 1790-ies in the gigantic church, which accommodated up to 5 000 worshipers, a woman felt bad - and asked for a glass of water. A broken phone began to work and people decided that a fire started and panicky rushed to the exit. In this crush many crippled themselves, there were also perished ones.

Facade of the church is decorated with Corinthian order pilasters, niches with statues of Saints (installed in 1896) and ornamental carving of shutters.

The church endured the restorations and reconstructions in 1740 (then appeared side naves, walls and vaults were painted by Francisco and Sebastian Ekshtein from Brno: Francis performed 4 compositions on the vault of the main nave and after the death of the master, his son continued the work - frescoes over choirs and side naves), 1842, 1879, 1896 respectively.

The rood (The sculptural crucifix), made by Jan Pfister, which was installed in the side altar is considered a valuable piece of art.

Львівський костел єзуїтів

To get to the church for a simple tourist is extremely difficult - hey, I'm not taking about the underground, but namely about the church! Residents and visitors of Lviv were able to receive such an opportunity during the celebration of the 750th anniversary of the city in autumn 2006 - there were plans to hold in the church a concert of classical music. The reality became an obstacle in its path: V. Stefanik’s Scientific Library of Lviv, which occupies the building for its archives, just banally didn’t have time to vacate the church from folios. Unfortunately, there is no other building in Lviv of the required size (this is more than 2 000 square meters), which could be provided to the library: the premises that were provided earlier, the library used for reading halls. This is also a necessary thing.

To whom belongs a three-storey building of Jesuit college, located close by the kostel, I do not know. The building appeared in 1723 according to the project of J. Brian, and is famous not only for magnificent baroque portal at the Teatralnaya street, with the lying knight and preserved frescoes, but also for the fact that in these walls was educated Bogdan Khmelnitsky. Educational organizations - the "strong point" of Jesuits, they provide excellent and free education, concerning the fact that it was, ahem, pro-Jesuit - so what could you expect under such circumstances?


From October 2002 began operating the sightseeing tour "Underground Lviv" (during two hours of tour for all comers is shown the underground of Jesuit church, Transfiguration Church and basements of Pharmacy-Museum, which is equipped with an alchemist’s room). The route was developed by the publishing house “The Center of Europe”. Do you think this is too extreme? Ha. There are more extreme sorts of entertainment - such as launching kayaks on the concrete underground Poltva.

Wyzytski’s sarcophagus and other wonders of Jesuit underground

Розп'яття в костелі.

There is a huge amount of articles about these undergrounds. In my native, "Carpathians", say, or in "City-life". I myself heard from the Lvivians’, enamored of their home town, various "terrifying" stories about this place, and had never been to it - not because I don’t want to, but it becomes somehow too much pop.

Guides promise to show everybody the remains of stone walls of princely times with the remnants of a portal and windows (the hearts of archaeologists begin to wither from a premonition, all others are disappointedly hemming, then a guide plays his last trump card – the track of an ancient mason’s finger - in the plaster under the entrance), the remains of household pottery of the XVIth – XVIIIth centuries (again hemming), door locks of the same time, which are still working, the remains of frescoes from the XVIIth century (this is more interesting) and finally (oh!) - stone sarcophagus of the XVIIIth century, covered with carving. It was made for the archbishop Wyzytski. From here mysticism starts, which surpasses even the rumors that a black silhouette seems to roam in the underground – this is one of the monks, known as a Black Monk, looking for his soul, sold to the devil. As if, once a young monk disappeared from his cell, leaving only a piece of paper, where he agreed to sell his soul to the devil. By the way, this fact is recorded in the archives of Lviv.

Now then, about the sarcophagus. It was the most interesting finding, which historians found in the undergrounds. It was made from a solid stone block, only a lid of the sarcophagus had more than 600 kg in weight (surprisingly, that not 666). A Latin inscription on the tomb indicates that the archbishop Wyzytski should have be laid here, but for lack of the last two digits in the incused date of burial "17 .." and also, relying on an absence of the skeleton in the sarcophagus, experts believe that the Archbishop had never laid in his own coffin.



Lviv’s mystics don't care a straw about all this, they put forward their own version of events. As the arguments, they cite the case, happened with one of the relatives of Vyzhytskiy, a magnate of the Potocki family, who shoot himself with a silver bullet, because considered himself to be a vampire. Now for such vampires there is an enormous choice of sites, where one can attract attention of rapturous girls, in that time these insane didn’t have such kind of outlet and had to shot themselves. Probably, unfortunate vampire hoped that silver also wouldn’t be enough to kill him...

The sarcophagus was found broken and with pressed out side wall. And they assert that it is not the work of black archaeologists, because the sarcophagus was broken from inside. Coma? Lethargy? Who knows, what happened in a life after the life of Krakow’s bishop and Lviv’s archbishop, born in 1700, in the family of Kiev’s Castellan and Polish petty bourgeois. They say that on the lid of the sarcophagus remained some strange traces - as if someone tried to get out of it ...

However, the version concerning black archeologists also should not be rejected: in the 1950's an access to the Lviv’s undergrounds was almost free (until the time when in the city was almost committed an assault on Khrushchev - and explosives installed in the area of Gorodotska street didn’t bury a large part of Lviv’s underground), so anyone could search for the treasures of Jesuits. All the more, it is known that the underground passages were used by Lviv’s thieves – they say that there was even an underground police that withdrew them into the daylight. Later the Jesuits’ underground was occupied by the druggies - during the repairs in 1997, employees of the "Snail’s" gallery removed from this place not only 20 machines of garbage, but also five buckets of syringes ...

Whether the wealth of the Order was found in the swamped with rubbish kostel, so far is unknown, but recently a funeral urn with ancient Chinese hieroglyphs had been found. Whether this funeral urn was brought to Lviv by Chinese people or by someone from Jesuits, who had visited the Celestial Empire, was unknown.

Undergrounds are opened only for 10-15 percent. Traditionally they don’t have enough money, on further investigation and clearing. Where to find the tomb of the archbishop, nobody knows. By the way, in the Jesuit’s undergrounds, among other things, were found human skeletons. Perhaps it is the remains of those who were once buried in the undercrofts of the kostel?

In the undergrounds are also presented rings, immured into the wall - a place of punishment for debtors. When the unlucky, the relatives of whom were able somehow to pay off debts, was released from here, he had also to pay Jesuits for his maintenance and two meals a day.

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