The Church of the Holy Spirit

The Church

The history of the Church of the Holy Spirit of Bauska and its German congregation began when the town was moved from the peninsula by the Bauska Castle to a new place on the banks of the Memel River. The Church of the Holy Trinity was erected for a Latvian congregation in 1573, and the foundations for the new German church were laid in 1591. Construction work was completed in 1594, but the church did not yet have a tower. One was installed in 1614, and in 1623, a master craftsman from Arnstadt, Michael Ulrich, completed the tower with a cupola and a spire. A clock was installed in the tower. At the top of the spire was a capsule with documents. In 1766, during renovations to the spire, a copper craftsman, K.F. Freize, prepared a new and gilded capsule. The documents were updated and put back into the capsule. The tower was struck by lightning in 1799, and in 1813 the damaged spire was simply torn down. In its place, a low four-sloped roof was installed.

During the course of history, this house of worship has been renovated and repaired on countless occasions, but the building’s mighty and Medievally squat appearance have not really changed. The Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska is a rectangular building from the East to the West, with a slightly narrower and lower altar section at the eastern end and the tower at the western end. The church has narrow window apertures, as well as weighty buttresses to support the tower and the choir loft. There are also small windows in the tower which are reminiscent of gun hatches. All of this testifies to building traditions from the Middle Ages, but it also reminds us that life in the city was by no means as safe as people might have wished.

The only visible decorative element on the facades is a profiled cornice, but the fact is that in the late 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, the facades were highly decorative with engraved bands or ornaments around the window and door apertures. Prior to the installation of the tower, such plastering also decorated the outer wall and main entrance on the western side of the building.

The Interior

The altar at the Bauska church was financed in 1699 by a local nobleman, von Schoepping. Initially it was a Baroque artwork with eight sculptures and two paintings. In 1861, a local townswoman donated money for the reconstruction of the altar, and an artist from Jelgava, J.Doering, was brought in to do the work. All of the sculptures and paintings were removed, and Doehring himself painted the composition “Christ on the Cross” which replaced them.

The ornate Rococo pulpit in the church was presented as a gift in 1762 by Russian Senator and Lt General N. von Korff. The pulpit is extensively decorated with seashells and latticework, and there are also cartouches with information about the man who presented the pulpit and the year in which that happened. On the little roof of the pulpit there is an angel along with the busts of several other angels, as well as the dove that is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Another cartouche contains the herald of the von Korff dynasty.

The new organ proscenium for the church also came from von Korff in 1766. It is white with gilded wood carvings, two angel figures on the cornice, and an ornate cartouche with the heralds of the von Korff and Skravronsky families. The pipe organ was presented to the church by G.F. von Schroeders in 1767 and rebuilt in 1891 by a master craftsman M.Krēsliņš from Jēkabpils. The organ, which is still used today, is the largest organ in all of Zemgale.

The pews in the church date back to around 1640. A carved depiction of the seal of the city has been preserved on the end of one of the pews, and that is the oldest known depiction of the seal, which was created shortly after Bauska was granted the rights of a city.

In 1688, Bauska citizen Hans Janke presented a painted pew to the church. The Baroque-style pew features paintings of the evangelists Matthew and Mark in the panels of the bench, an image of tormented Christ in the middle, and paintings of the evangelists Luke and John in the panels of the barrier.

The second Baroque pew in the church dates back to 1700, when it was presented to the church by H. L. von Foelchersahm from the Barbel Estate and his wife. The back of the bench and the barrier of the pew are decorated with gilded texts from the Bible, woven columns and gilded wood carvings.

The latest and most ornate of the pews in the church came from the owner of the Bornsmünde Estate, F. W. von Schoepping, and his wife. The glassed-in Rococo pew was created in 1770 by the carpenter G. L. Schettler. The back of the seat is decorated with two paintings – “Adam and Eve” and “Golgotha.” The eye of God watches the worshippers from the ceiling of the pew.

The Grave markers un the Epitaphs

The collection of grave markers in the church consists of very distinguished examples of memorial sculpture from the 16th and 17th centuries. On the northern wall, there are three grave markers, and the first one from the entrance is the oldest one in the collection. It was installed in 1571 in commemoration of the late wife of the owner of the Code Estate, Chr. von Schroeder, Elisabeth. Alongside are grave markings for G. Schmoll (1634) and two sons of Rundāle Estate owner D. von Grotthuss. On the eastern wall is a grave market commemorating the owner of the Īslīce Estate, J. Schulte. This marker and the previously mentioned one feature the motif of the resurrected Christ. On the northern wall of the altar section, there is a grave marker for the owner of the Brukna Estate, N. Klott (1598). On the southern side there is a grave marker to commemorate Rundāle Estate owner D. Grotthuss and his wife (1599). The crucified Christ is seen on the marker with the nobleman and his wife shown kneeling alongside it.

There are three grave markers on the southern wall of the interior. The one that is closest to the altar has been completely worn down, and no text can be seen on it anymore. Alongside it is the grave marker for Georg von Tiesenhousen, who owned the Eleja Estate, was a justice of the peace in Zemgale, and served as an advisor and chancellor to the dukes of Kurzeme. The fact that Tiesenhousen is seen dressed in armour on the grave marker testifies to his importance. The third grave marker commemorates a member of the Bauska City Council, Gotthard Ficke (1672).

Epitaphs, like grave markers are meant to commemorate respected members of society in Bauska. Only two of the many epitaphs that were in the church at one time have survived. On the southern wall of the interior, alongside the organ loft, is a epitaph prepared in 1677 in commemoration of a judge of the Bauska court, J. Henning, and his wife. The artwork is the work of the German artist Dietrich von Zeitz. The ornate epitaph features woven columns, profiled engravings and a painted frame within which there is a painting of Christ trampling a dragon. On both sides of the image are depictions of the deceased couple and their family members. The second epitaph is on the northern wall of the interior and was produced in 1757 in commemoration of one of Bauska’s mayors, K.J.Reimers. The engraved wooden leaves enclose the dynasty’s seal, and underneath is a cartouche with information about the man’s life.


During the summer season, the Church of the Holy Spirit in Bauska is open to visitors every day.
Services every Sunday on 10.00

Plūdoņa Street 13a, Bauska
Phone +371 26609920, +371 29227564

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