Nowosielski in Former East Prussia

Two years ago we spent our summer holidays driving through Pomerania and the former East Prussia. During that trip we couldn’t miss of course Górowo Iławeckie (German Landsberg), a town located near the present Polish Russian border, only a few dozen kilometres away from the former Koenigsberg, the city of Immanuel Kant, at the heart of the historic East Prussia. It wasn’t the Prussian past of Górowo that interested us mostly, however. The reason we decided to endanger our car by driving on roadways which probably haven’t been resurfaced since the end of German rule in this land, was the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Byzantine Catholic Church, whose iconostasis was designed by Jerzy Nowosielski and in which there are many polychromes painted by him. The Ukrainians living presently in Górowo are descendants of the people forced to move to this area during the Operation “Vistula”. Although most of them are Byzantine Catholic (some belong to a smaller Orthodox parish), only recently they received the medieval church which was Protestant since the Reformation until 1945. However Nowosielski’s art has always aroused controversy among the so called “church people”, it was him who was given the task to create the church’s new interior. The majority of the former German Protestant churches, which after 1945 were taken over mostly by Roman Catholics, were treated horribly. Everything possible was done in order to remove the traces of their German and Protestant past. Nowosielski approached this past in a comply different way – humble and respectful. Although they represent a completely different style, his works perfectly fit together with both the Gothic walls and the Baroque painting on the plafond which depicts scenes from Jesus’ life. In this way a unique liturgical space was created, which, combining elements of various styles, shows symbolically the difficult and complex, though at the same time beautiful and rich history of this area. You can see it by clicking at the thumbnails included in the Polish post below. And after that listen (also in the Polish post) to the hymn Agni Parthene sung by Studite monks from the monastery in Univ near Lviv, where Nowosielski lived as a novice for a short time during the war [The Rev. Dcn. Piotr Siwicki informed us that we made a mistake here. Jerzy Nowosielski stayed at St. John the Baptist Lavra in Lviv].

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