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Frescoes

Freska. Kęstučio Ipolito Stoškaus fotografijaRemarkable frescoes from the end of 18th century embellish the cylindrical vaults of the central nave and the walls. The painter is believed to have been Krzystof Polubinski, a Dominican friar. The paintings are made by al secco techniques. A very popular at that time illusory method of painting was used for the decoration of the vaults. The figures are placed in the architectural phone so that it prolongs and optically opens the space of the sanctuary. The frescos portray an interesting but rear presented in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania legend of the Finding and Glorification of the Holy Cross. No other wall paintings in Lithuania deal with the story of the Holy Cross. The frescoes theme of the Holy Cross is related with Christ’s public activity and the Sacred Heart themes. The vault of the presbytery is decorated by allegoric scene which reflects devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The main three “historical” scenes reflecting the most important episodes from the legend of Holy Cross – “The Battle of Constantine the Great with Maxentius”, “St Helen Finds the True Cross”, “The Adoration of the Holy Cross” – are painted in the nave. All the scenes in the vault are presented in artistically painted illusory architectural phone. The panoramic views, concerning the beginning of Christianity and reminding the rediscovery and exaltation of the True Cross, deal with the painting of Sacred Heart of Jesus and reflect the true sense of Sacrifice on the Cross, in this way historical scenes are related with the Crucifix from the main altar.

Eight smaller compositions are presented in the lunettes of the vault. They review the miracles from Christ’s life and practice (“Christ at Simon’s House”, “Women near the Sepulcher of Christ”, Christ and a Sinner”, “Expulsion of Traders from the Sanctuary”, “The treatment of two blind men”, “The Resurrection of Lazars”, “The Homily of the Mount”) and allegoric composition “Following of Christ” is painted.

In opinion of Rimantė Meldytė who has analyzed the frescoes of the Church of the Finding of the Holy Cross, Vilnius Bishop Ignacy Jakub Masalski (1726-1794) could influence the content of frescoes. He organized the celebration of the anniversary year in Vilnius Diocese in 1776. So the themes and ideas of the frescoes of Calvary Church not only testify the importance of the Passion of Christ to Dominicans and are related with the Way of the Cross but they also represent the whole religious context of life in the end of the 18th century. Thoughts from the anniversary grace year homilies about penance for sins, renewing of the spiritual life and strong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His mercifulness have been embodied in frescoes.

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