About Saints Francis and Bernardine Church Vilnius
The Saints Francis and Bernardine Church, translated as Sv. Pranciskaus ir Bernardino, is a late 15th century church in the UNESCO-listed historic quarter of Vilnius. It is one of the country’s largest religious gothic structures.
Saints Francis and Bernardine Church history
At one point, Saints Francis and Bernardine Church formed part of the city’s fortifications, a fact evidenced by a series of archers’ holes and guard towers still visible today. It was then renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries, accounting for its Renaissance and Baroque elements.
Saint Francis church includes a monastery notable for owning an internet news website. It also celebrates Roman Catholic mass in English every Sunday.
The current Church was built between 1506-1516, and included the presbytery with monastic choir and sacristy, which had been preserved from of the dismantled church. The Church was considered one of the largest and most beautiful buildings in the City.
The Bernardine Monastery, which was built together with the Church, had a noviciate, seminary, a scriptorium and a library. Bernardines were renowned for their ability as preachers and as tradesmen. After the uprisings of the 19th century, the Tsarist government closed the monastery. After the Second World War, the Vilnius Art Institute (now the Academy of Fine Arts) was established in this monastery.
During the Soviet years, the Church was turned into a warehouse for the Institute of Art. Later, Franciscans re-consecrated the Church, which had been returned to them in 1994.
Saints Francis and Bernardine Church Vilnius today
Today, Saints Francis and Bernardine Church is grouped with the neighbouring Church of St Anne for tourist purposes, with long and short route guided tours offered of these historic sites.
Getting to Saints Francis and Bernardine Church Vilnius
The Old Town of Vilnius follows the medieval layout and it’s easy to walk the streets and see the stunning collection of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical buildings.
Guided bus, walking, and boat tours allow guests to discover the Vilnius Old Town and centre in the most immediate and hands-on way. Renting bicycles, audio guides, or Segways are often good choices for those who want to investigate the town without a group.