The chapels in Kartena parish

Ilona Burinskaitė

Kretinga is one of the Lithuanian districts notable for numerous wooden chapels. Even 53 wooden chapels of 204 ones known in Lithuania were situated in Kartena parish in the 20th century. The purpose of this article is to compare the old and new chapels of the Kartena parish, relying upon the archive data and that collected during the expedition organised by the Versmė Publishers.

Formerly such chapels had been widespread in nature environment: more often by the roads or at the cemeteries than in a living space. At the end of the 20th and the beginning of 21st centuries they were being built near the farmsteads as private family monuments. Their number grows in a more varied environment and new chapels are erected in place of former ones.

In most cases, the selection of subjects for the sculptures was related to the purpose of the wooden chapels: a desire for health, personal success and happiness or thanksgiving for a mercy of God. Different subjects of sculptures expressed the different purposes. At the end of the 19th century and the first half of 20th century, about 10 different subjects of sculptures were used in the chapels of the Kartena parish. But various subjects of the Blessed Virgin Mary were most frequently used. Her statues made of gyps were prevailing in the newly built chapels, but the relation between the intention of chapel building and the variety in sculpture subjects expressing it is disappearing.

The square plan chapels with two or three sloped roofs and a deep two-column porch were the most frequently applied. This architectural decision is popular in the new architecture of chapels from Kartena parish, but the artistic expression by individual masters is a great value as well.