Art valuables of the Alksnėnai Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Regimanta Stankevičienė
Lithuanian Culture Research Institute

A small and outlying Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Aksnėnai is important at a wide regional level as an art heritage of the 16th-20th centuries, and due to its most valuable art works it is a shrine of Lithuania.

The most valuable are the old sculptures. It is famous for its magic Statue of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus (Prussian Madonna) that is the early 16th century work of style in the transition from Gothic to Renaissance, and 17th century wooden sculptures of such Saints as Elizabeth of Hungary, Catherine of Alexandria, Dominic and Hyacinth notable for Mannerism and Baroque features, as well as decorative busts and fragments of altars. They are inherited from the older chapel of this place, and have entered this chapel from unknown churches; one of them could be the Virbalis Dominican Church of the owners of Alksnėnai Folwark.

Among the valuable works there are the late 18th century paintings of St. Martin, St. Evangelist Matthew, St. Bishop Stanislaw and the Baptism of Jesus with a mixed Baroque and Classicist style; a primitive carving of a similar time with the sign of the Name of Mary also attracts attention.

The rest of the artistic heritage was created for the current church built in the 1860s and reconstructed later. After the reconstruction in 1924–1931, the image of the newly decorated interior has not changed much so far. The same three altars have survived. The high altar of Neo-Baroque-style also features old Baroque décor; the side altars were designed by the famous regional artist Adomas Karalius. Confessionals were made at about the same time, when the stations of the Way of the Cross painted in oil on canvas as a free imitation of the Joseph Führich-created cycle also were procured.
Now the miraculous statue of Mary and St. Martin's painting adorns the high altar of the church. Paintings of the apostles Peter and Paul as the examples of primitive art of the second half of the 19th century, hung in the vault of the presbytery. The cycle of the Way of the Cross and ancient paintings hang on the walls of the church; statues of saints are erected next to the pillars.