St. Bridget's Church was built in the mid-1300s, initially as St. Magdalene’s Chapel, on the location of the legendary appearance of the Holiest Virgin. In 1374, the funeral procession carrying the remains of the founder of the Holiest Saviour Convent, Bridget of Sweden, which was travelling from Rome to Vadstena in Sweden, made a stop in Gda?sk. The residents of Gda?sk paid great homage to the deceased, whose sarcophagus and relics were initially laid in the Marian Church and then in the chapel of penitents, where it stayed for two weeks. This event made such a great impression on the people that it gave birth to the cult St. Bridget, maintained by the Bridgettine Convent, which settled in the city in 1386.
During the years 1396-1397, the Bridgettines built the first, single-aisle, church under the calling of St. Bridget, which was expanded until the 16th Century, when the temple was consumed by fire. The beginning of the 17th Century turned out to be very laborious to the Bridgettines, as they rebuilt the aisle of the church and provided it with Renaissance interior decoration. The final form was provided to the temple and the convent during the first half of the 18th Century.
During the war operations in 1945, the church was burned down and mostly destroyed. It was not reconstructed for a long time, and the last preserved fragments of the roof truss and one of the peaks of the south aisle burned down in 1957. The temple remained in ruins until 1970, when its reconstruction was began under the initiative of parish priest Henryk Jankowski. The renovation and furnishing work lasted until 1987, when the H. Han painting of “St. Bridget’s Apotheosis” was installed in the vestry.
Due to the activity of Lech Wa??sa’s labour union and the importance of the location to Catholics during the communist regime, St. Bridget’s Church is considered as a certain sanctuary of “Solidarity” and a monument to the difficult road to freedom, which Poland had to conquer in the 20th Century. The tragic history of post-war Poland is recalled by the sculptures from the chisels of El?bieta and Rafa? Pelpli?ski and a statue presenting the martyr’s death of priest Jerzy Popie?uszko, created by Wawrzyniec Samp.
The year 2001 saw the initiation of the work on the creation of the great amber top of the main altar in the church’s presbytery. It will reach the vault and arch over the tabernacle and the altar mensa. The area of the decoration will ultimately reach 99 m2, towering over the Amber Chamber. The monumental amber altar with a height of 11 m and a width of 6 m will be in the form of a triptych with the painting of the Mother of God of the Labour World in the central part. The church currently presents the fragments of the constructed altar and the magnificent amber monstrance created by Mariusz Drapikowski.References:
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The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.