The dramatization of the Holy Week in Švėkšna church in the first half of the 19th century

  • Asta Giniūnienė
Keywords: Švėkšna church, Paschal decoration, Christ’s tomb, baroque scenery, late baroque painting, iconography of the Old Testament


The article for the first time analyses the decoration parts of the Christ’s tomb of the second half
of the 18th century found a few years ago in Švėkšna church. The Christ’s tomb from the old
church was transferred to the  new church, which was built in 1804 and used until the  4th
decade of the 19th century. On the basis of the sources and remained fragments we can state
that this was a complicated structure of the Paschal decoration designed under the European
baroque scenery principles. It was composed of the paintings on boards and canvas and mis-
cellaneous accessories. The  Christ’s tomb paintings are characterised by a  symbolic allegoric
content and artistry. The prophets of the Old Testament and characters the New Testament
reflecting the Paschal Triduum liturgy were depicted in the decoration. The survived outline
paintings of Adam and Eve in Paradise, Noah waiting for the Saviour, and Angels Lamenting
over the Death of Jesus are the exceptional iconography images in the Lithuanian church art.
The decorations of the Christ’s tomb were created by the professional masters who decorated
the churches in Samogitia in the second part of the 18th century. The images of suffering and
dead Jesus used in the figuration of the Paschal Triduum influenced the spread of the Passion
scenes. This is supported by an interesting archival fact about the shrine with a group of sculp-
tures depicting the tomb of Christ in the Švėkšna churchyard.
The fragments of the Paschal decorations in the Švėkšna church are important baroque scen-
ery exhibits, which are valuable for the history of the Lithuanian church art and scenography.
The investigation of the Holy Week figuration in the Švėkšna church is a valuable illustration
of this multidimensional cultural, religious and artistic phenomenon.