GALLERY: Night of Churches opens doors of nearly 50 churches, congregations across Estonia

  • image

    Tartu Uspenski Cathedral (Orthodox) was consecrated in 1783. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Tartu Uspenski Cathedral (Orthodox) was consecrated in 1783. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Prayer candles lit in remembrance of deceased loved ones in Tartu Uspenski Cathedral (Orthodox). (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    The oldest parts of the current Brick Gothic-style St. John's Church date back to the 14th century. (Lutheran) (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Beeswax and paraffin prayer candles for purchase at St. John's Church (Lutheran). (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Organist's balcony view in the Church of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tartu's only Roman Catholic church. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Church bells and steep steps in the spire of the Church of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Roman Catholic). (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Tartu Cathedral, which also currently houses the University of Tartu History Museum, was already in ruins by the 16th century. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    The modern Tartu St. Luke's Church (Methodist), awarded Best New Building in Tartu in 2002, was built on a plot of land that once belonged to professor of surgery Werner Zoege von Manteuffel. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Members of the St. Luke's congregation greeting guests and passing out candy at the church entrance. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Luke's as seen from its balcony. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Luke's offered coffee, tea and other refreshments for visitors at its café. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Peter's Church (Lutheran) was consecrated in 1884. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Peter's Church (Lutheran) houses an organ with a total of 22 registers. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Peter's Church (Lutheran) can seat up to 3,000. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Alexander's Church (Orthodox) was consecrated in 1915. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    St. Alexander's Church (Orthodox) was open to visitors the latest, with the night's final service just beginning at midnight. (Aili Sarapik)

  • photo

    Stamps from various participating houses of worship visited in Tartu. (Aili Sarapik)

6/11/2016 7:04 PM
Category: Culture

On Friday night, a total of 48 Christian houses of worship across Estonia, including churches, two chapels and one house of prayer, were open to visitors, offering special programs, concerts, and opportunities for visitors to explore and ask questions about the churches and their activities. In Tartu alone, visitors were welcomed at 14 locations across the city, many of which stayed open until midnight.

Despite the chilly drizzle, from 6 p.m onward, small groups of people could be seen moving from church to church across Tartu, carrying cameras and small info booklets that were stamped at each visited church or congregation participating in the annual event.

For many visitors, this was perhaps the first time they had set foot in one or another of the city’s many churches, as Christianity in particular suffered a major decline in popularity among Estonians during five decades of occupation, and active membership in Christian congregations is considered by many to be more niche than the norm today.

The Night of Churches, or Long Night of Churches, as it is known in some countries, has been gaining popularity in Europe since the first was held in Germany in 2003. The event, called Kirikute öö in Estonian, was organized in Estonia for the first time in 2012; in its first year, a dozen churches in Tartu and one church in Tallinn took part.

The aim of the event is for churches to open their doors and encourage inquisitive visitors to step inside, get acquainted with the church itself and, if interested, the activities of the congregations as well. Various churches offered prayers, services and Holy Communion, but also refreshments, concerts, tours of the church and informational presentations. Yet others encouraged visitors to simply come and go as they please, ready to answer any questions visitors may have had.

Visitors to the ruins of Tartu Cathedral, which also house the University of Tartu History Museum, and the Church of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tartu's only Roman Catholic church, were also given the opportunity to take in the views from the top of their respective towers.

This year, the list of churches and congregations participating in the event included Harju, Järva, Lääne-Viru, Pärnu, Rapla, Saare, Tartu and Valga Counties, with the most places open to visitors in Tartu County (14 in the city of Tartu and one in nearby Nõo), followed by Valga County (nine in the town of Valga and one just over the Latvian border in the city’s other half, Valka). While many Estonian churches belong to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), other denominations were represented in the event as well, including Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist and Estonian Orthodox.

The Night of Churches has been organized in a number of European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands and Slovakia.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters
{{error}}

Message forwarded to the editor

This Ip-address has limited access

See also

There are no comments yet. Be the first!

Reply to comment

+{{childComment.ReplyToName}}:
Reply to comment
Reply

Laadi juurde ({{take2}})
The name field cannot be empty
No more than 50 characters
Comment field cannot be empty
No more than 1024 characters
{{error}}
Add new comment