New Findings about the History of the Church of Riešė

  • Rūta Janonienė
Keywords: Didžioji Riešė, Riešės (Gulbinų) Raudondvaris, Jan Kazimierz Zyberk, Verkiai Dominican Monastery, Szymon Czechowicz, St Stanislaus Kostka


The present church of St Stanislaus the Bishop in Riešė (Pol., Rzesza) was built in the first half of the twentieth century, but its history reaches the fifteenth century. In those years, there were several wooden Catholic churches or chapels in the area of Riešė. The article describes the history of the Church of the Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was built in 1790 in the territory of the manor of Didžioji Riešė. Only some details have been mentioned in scholarly literature so far. The church, which was built on private property, actually belonged to the parish of the Dominicans of Verkiai. Between 1868 and 1906, the small church of Riešė was unable to provide services because of the tsarist colonial policy. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it became a filial church of Verkiai, and in 1919 the parish of Riešė was established. Early in the twentieth century, the church was renovated and extended, but it was burnt to ashes by the Wehrmacht in 1944. Thus, the photographs by Jan Bulhak, which are kept at the Lithuanian State History Archives, is all that can give us a picture of the past. These photographs depict the painting The Vision of St Stanislaus Kostka by Szymon Czechowicz (1689–1775) from the high altar of the old church, which is actually a copy of the altarpiece painted for the church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale in Rome by Carlo Maratta in about 1686. This piece of art has never been mentioned in any article on Czechowicz. The presumption made in the article is that the piece of art could have arrived to Riešė some time between the eighteenth century and the first decades of the nineteenth century, when the manors of Didžioji Riešė and Gulbinų Raudondvaris belonged to Jan Kazimierz Zyberk (Sieberg zu Wischling, 1742–1820), a general lieutenant of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and his wife Jadwiga Plater (c. 1780–1833).

Visual Art