St. Michael the Archangel's Church or the Garrison Church is a Roman Catholic church closing the perspective of the Laisvės alėja, the main pedestrian street. It was built between 1891 and 1895 when Kaunas was part of the Russian empire, in Neo-Byzantine style largely for the use of the Russian Orthodox garrison of Kaunas Fortress.
The church was designed as an Orthodox cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in 1890 by K. H. Lymarenko. The cathedral was completed in four years and was inaugurated on 17 September 1895. Most of the construction was carried out by workers from Chernigov Governorate, and its art-work was implemented by craftsmen from St. Petersburg.
As usual for military churches of the period, the construction of Kaunas cathedral was financed equally by the Military Ministry and by donations from army servicemen. Completion of the church finalized the administrative building complex of the Kaunas Fortress; it symbolized less the presence of Orthodox Christians than the imperial authority of the Russian government. It was also believed that the church would reduce interdenominational frictions.
After the fall of the Kaunas Fortress during World War I the Germans cut down the church bells and transported them to Germany. The church stayed closed until 1919. In the interwar period the cathedral became a Roman Catholic church of the Lithuanian garrison of Kaunas. During the Soviet occupation, it was used as an art gallery. Nowadays it serves as a Roman Catholic church.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).