Today, “Church Night” and “Open Church Day” will take place in churches throughout Latvia.
This year, the biblical words have been chosen for the slogan and theme of Church Night: “And make it known to your children and your children’s children.”
With these words, the organizers of the event call for reflection on the transmission of faith and the associated heritage of values from generation to generation, thinking about family ties and the importance of the community togetherness.
In addition to the Church Night events, the organizers invite congregations in all counties to participate in the Open Church Day initiative, as the openness of the church to the public is one of the forms of ministry. During this initiative, congregations are encouraged, as far as possible, to keep churches open during the day.
The organizers of the “Church Night” are aware that in many places it can be difficult to ensure that the church is open all day, so it is encouraged to involve not only the people in the church, but also people from the local area or friends of the church.
More than 100 architectural and artistic monuments will open their doors today on Church Day and Church Night, said Elvita Ruka, a spokeswoman for the National Cultural Heritage Board (NCMP).
She says that it will be an opportunity to get to know the diversity of Latvia’s sacred heritage, to feel the spirit of the historical time and the preached values, as well as to see examples of good restoration. The 188 churches registered for the event will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ruka notes that the NCMP has been supporting the Church Night events since their initiation in 2014. The sacred heritage is an essential part of cultural and historical identity, which forms both the national mentality and the landscape. The Day of Open Churches and the Night of the Churches is an opportunity for the widest part of the society to open the doors of the nearby churches and travel further – to discover, get to know and honor the sacred heritage of Latvia. The NCMP calls for the event to focus on both ancient architectural and artistic values and the best examples of restoration.
She reminds that churches of different denominations, their interior, art and ritual objects are an important part of the list of monuments protected by the state. Surviving in Soviet atheism, they still testify to eternal values and the high craftsmanship of masters working in Latvia.
According to Ruka, each church has its own history and story, each revealing a period of history and the dominant trends in architecture and art. Restoration work is still ongoing in many churches. A significant part of the funding for this process is provided from the state budget – the Sacred Heritage Financing Program and support for the program for the conservation and restoration of cultural monuments.
The NCMP spokeswoman notes that Church Night is an important event in promoting cultural heritage. Since 2021, it has been supplemented with Open Church Day. It is an opportunity for the people of Latvia and the guests of the country to visit the churches of all regions and get to know the diverse aesthetics of the sacred heritage.
This year, NCMP experts have highlighted several sites during Open Church Day and Church Night. In Zemgale it is the Roman Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Skaistkalne, where extensive restoration works have begun, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska, where the Baroque altar returned from the Rundāle Castle Museum.
In Sēlija, the NKMP recommends visiting the Erberg Evangelical Lutheran Church, where the recently restored pulpit and paintings can be seen, as well as the reconstruction of Julius Döring’s altarpiece, the Nereta Evangelical Lutheran Church, an example of an interior and an example of an unusual Dutch design.
In Vidzeme, NKMP experts have highlighted the Smiltene Evangelical Lutheran Church, where an extensive restoration continues, the Rubene Evangelical Lutheran Church as one of the oldest Christian sites in Latvia, where the restoration and landscaping of the territory St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church as a significant Gothic monument and the largest medieval basilica outside Riga, which has been completely restored.
In and around Riga, NKMP experts invite you to visit St. Francis Catholic Church, where fragments of polychrome paintings on the walls have been discovered, the roof and re-wall have been restored, Mārtiņš Evangelical Lutheran Church, stained glass restoration, Ķemeri Evangelical Lutheran Church, .
In Latgale, visitors are invited to visit the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vilaka, an outstanding neo-Gothic example of several art monuments and recently restored stained glass windows, the Roman Catholic Church of St. Dominic in Pasiene The Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a place of pilgrimage with a restored bell tower and restored interior.
In Kurzeme, NCMP experts recommend visiting the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in Liepaja with its ornate late Baroque and Rococo interior and its successful restoration, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in woodcarving and its restoration. Visitors are also invited to visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Vane, which is notable for its architectural design of the “lifeboat” and its Baroque murals. The church is an example of gradual restoration.