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International project renovates priceless frescoes in historic Garrison Church in Lviv

Photo: Volodymyr Monets
International project renovates priceless frescoes in historic Garrison Church in Lviv
Article by: Christine Chraibi
After four long years of intensive restoration work, the historic Church of Saints Peter and Paul opens its magnificent galleries to the public. The renovated frescoes created by Francis Eckstein in 1740 are situated on the vault of the central nave of the Garrison Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul of the Lviv Archdiocese of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

The largest international restoration project in Ukraine, it required seven years of intensive research and work by twenty Ukrainian and Polish restorers under the guidance of Dr. Pavlo Bolinsky.

Before renovation. Photo: Roman Datso

The project was launched back in July 2015 by Father Stepan Susa, who was then the parish priest (he is now Bishop of the UGCC). First, the restorers worked on the frescoes over the presbytery (sanctuary) of the church (300m2). In 2018, the second stage of restoration began; it covered more than 1000m2.

The frescoes depicts the life of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, their missionary work and journeys.

Photo: Volodymyr Monets

On November 10, 2021, 38 tonnes of scaffolding – 3390 м3 – were dismantled. Lighting will be installed by the end of the year. The total cost of the project amounted to 20 million hryvnias.

The Garrison Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul was built by the Jesuits in the Baroque style at the beginning of the 17th century. Over the centuries, the church has survived many hardships. It was closed by the Soviet government in 1946, and for 65 years it remained silent. It was used as a warehouse and book depository for several decades.

After World War II, the roof began to leak, thus destroying many beautiful frescoes of the central vault; many other frescoes of the lateral naves were lost.

Photo: Volodymyr Monets

On May 14, 2010, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Ukraine agreed to reopen the Garrison Church under the UGCC. On July 8, 2010, the City of Lviv transferred the building to the UGCC, which then placed it under the care of the Center of Military Chaplaincy.

“The church has its own history and it is a well-known fact that from 1848 to 1939 it was used as a garrison church and Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky studied at the former Jesuit College, which adjoins the church. I believe it would be appropriate to renew this church and taking into consideration its historic past so that pastoral care is resumed to meet the spiritual needs of the military of the city and their families.

Every country, where military pastoral care or chaplaincy is officially recognized by the government, has garrison churches where the military gather for prayer on various occasions and for state and military commemorative dates and celebrations.” stated Patriarch Lubomyr Husar in Kyiv on May 25, 2009.

The restoration, which lasted four years, was carried out thanks to the financial support of the Department of Historic Environment of the Lviv City Council, international partners, and in particular, the Ministry of Culture of Poland and the Polonik Institute, and donations from the faithful.

The grand unveiling of the renovated frescoes will take place on December 2, 2021.

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