Date today: 19.11.2017  |  Name days: Liza, Līze, Elizabete, Betija

Church in Latvia

Since 1995 there are four dioceses in the Roman Catholic church in Latvia: 


Archdiocese of Riga

Territory: 23 587 km2.

Bishop: metropolitan archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs.

Parishes and mission points: 76

Statistics for 2015: 1960 baptisms, 377 weddings, 1143 funerals, 824 First communions, 529 546 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2014: 1959 baptisms, 425 weddings, 1164  funerals, 961 First communions, 532 635 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2013: 2044 baptisms, 339 weddings, 1306 funerals, 924 First communions, 541 588 distributed Hosts.

Feasts

Feast day of St. Meinhard – 14 August, feast celebrated on a Sunday after 15 August. Since 2000 the feast is celebrated on St. Meinhard’s island, Ikskile, with the presence of bishops, priests and many faithful. Many people receive Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation.

Feast day of St. James – 25 July, feast of patron saint of St. James’s Cathedral.

History

In 1184 canon regular Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in territories inhabited by Livs. In 1186 Hartwig II, bishop of Bremen, consecrated Meinhard as bishop. Bishop Meinhard started to build a church and stone foretress in Ikskile. 1188 pope Clement III incorporated the bishopric of Ikskile into the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen.

In 1196 Bishop Meinhard died and in 1198 bishop of Ikskile became Albert of Buxhoeveden who arrived in Livonia with 23 ships and 500 crusaders. In 1201 bishop Albert moved episcopal see to Riga. By 1207 all Livs and part of Latgalians were baptised. In 1214 pope Innocent III disunited the diocese of Riga from Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen and subjected it directly to Rome. In 1215 pope Innocent III gave Livonia the title of “Terra Mariana” (Land of Mary).

In 1229 bishop Albert died and from 1230 to 1253 the diocese was under the bishop Nikolaus of Nauen. During this time Dominicans and Franciscans came to Riga. In 1255 bishop Albert II Suerbeer became archbishop and Riga Metropolia consisted of 5 bishoprics – Tartu, Saaremaa, Reval, Courland and Piltene. 

In 1393 archbishopric was incorporated into the Livonian Order. The struggles between between the archbishop and the Order continued until the midst of 15th century.

In 1521 Andreas Knöpken began to preach Lutheranism at St. Peter’s church in Riga. In 1521 the crowd destroyed icons and altars in St. Peter’s church and in St. James’s church. In 1558 Livonian war started and it ended only in 1583. During this time almost all churches were destroyed. To protect himself, archbishop of Riga decided to capitulate. In 1561 Livonia ceased to exist. All territories in north was under the rule of Poland. In 1563 died the last archbishop of Riga Wilhelm von Brandenburg and the archdiocese of Riga ceased to exist.

In 1582 Stephen Bathory, King of Poland, gave back to Catholics St. James’s church and St. Mary Magdalene’s church in Riga. At the same time Jesuits came to Riga. When Vidzeme became part of Poland, bishopric of Wenden (Cēsis) was established. Pope approved it in 1584. The diocese was renamed Inflanty, later Inflanty-Piltene. Until 1621 it was directly subjected to Rome but then to Gniezno. The bishopric existed until 1798 when Latgale, Vidzeme and Courland became part of Russia. In 1783 Latgale and Vidzeme was added to archdiocese of Mogilev; in 1798 Courland and Semigallia – to diocese of Samogitia (now Kaunas). 

After the First World War pope Benedict XV renewed the diocese of Riga and appointed Edward O’Rourke as bishop. On 14 April 1920 pope appointed Antonijs Springovičs as next bishop. On 30 May 1922 the Concordat was signed between Latvian government and the Holy See. As episcopal see was chosen St. James’s Cathedral that belonged to Lutherans since 1621. The diocese became archdiocese and bishop Antonijs Springovičs was appointed the first archbishop of Riga.

During the independence many catholic lay activities occurred, as well as different catholic periodicals were published. In August 1937 the Synod of Province of Riga was held and Statutes of Province of Riga were established. At the same year archbishop Springovičs became metropolitan archbishop.

On 17 June 1940 Latvia was occupied by Soviet army, the archdiocese of Riga continued to exist but all its properties were confiscated, Catholic organisations and periodicals were banned, priests had to leave houses that belonged to the Church. On 14 June 1941 many priests were among thousands of people who were deported. On 22 June 1941 Latvia was occupied by Germany, during this time Catholic church in Latvia didn’t experience any certain suppressions. In 1944 when the Soviet army approached Riga, three Latvian bishops and 40 priests emigrated to the West.

In 1945 suppressions against Catholics. reoccured. In 1946 Seminary of Riga was open at St. Francis church but it has to experience suppressions as well. From 198 priests who ministered in Latvia before the war there remained only about 60.

In 1958 metropolitan archbishop Springovičs died and his place was taken by Pēteris Strods. Atheist propaganda intensified and priests were often blackmailed. In 1960 Strods died and the dean Julijans Začests became an apostolic administrator of the archdiocese of Riga. When the government forbade him to fulfil his duties, as vicar general was appointed Julijans Vaivods.

On 8 May 1991 pope John Paul II restored Riga Metropolis as ecclesiastical province and appointed Jānis Pujats as metropolitan archbishop of Riga.  On 8 and 9 September 1993 pope John Paul II visited Latvia and declared Meinhard, the first bishop of Livonia, a saint.

On 2 December 1995 the Holy See announced the decree that divided Latvian Catholics into 4 dioceses: archdiocese of Riga (Vidzeme), diocese of Liepaja (Courland), diocese of Rezekne-Aglona (Latgale) and diocese of Jelgava (Semigallia).

On 8 August 2010 Zbigņevs Stankevičs was consecrated metropolitan archbishop of Riga.

St. James’s Cathedral, Riga

St. James’s Cathedral is an important monument of architecture that maintains many items of sacral art in Latvia, as well as it is an essential architectural unit of the historic centre of Riga, UNESCO World Heritage. St. James’s Cathedral together with St. Mary Magdalene’s church, Curia, convent and various Catholic lay organisations, make up one of the main Catholic centres in Riga.

New churches

Since Latvia restored its independence in the archdiocese of Riga are built 22 new churches. 


Diocese of Rezekne-Aglona

Territory: 15 679 km2.

Bishop: Jānis Bulis.

Website: www.radieceze.lv

Parishes and mission points: 116

Statistics for 2015: 2287 baptisms,400 weddings, 2500 funerals, 1074 First communions, 656 813 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2014: 2188 baptisms, 383 weddings, 2291 funerals, 1191 First communions, 684 968 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2013: 2082 baptisms, 362 weddings, 2444 funerals, 1026 First communions, 660 374 distributed Hosts.

Feast

Feast day of St. Donatus – celebrated in Kraslava on the 1st Sunday after Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Relics of St. Donatus were translated to Kraslava from the Catacombs of Rome in 1775.

Assumption of Mary – 15 August, the main feast of the year in Aglona. Thousands of pilgrims from Latvia and abroad come to celebrate the Assumption of Virgin Mary into Heaven. In 1980 Pope John Paul II granted Aglona church with the title “Basilica minoris”. It was visited by the pope in September 1993.

History

The idea of a separate diocese in Latgale arose already in the time of Francis Trasuns (1864-1926). This idea came reality only on 2 December 1995 when pope John Paul II in his bull Ad aptius consulendum established diocese of Rezekne-Aglona. It consists of 11 deaneries: Aglona, Dagda, Daugavpils, Kraslava, Livani, Ludza, Nautreni, Preili, Rezekne, Varaklani and Vilaka. Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Rezekne was declared cathedral, but Aglona Basilica became co-cathedral. On 17 March 1996 Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral greeted its bishop Jānis Bulis.

Since establishment of the diocese a lot has been done: issues regarding Cathedral solved; new building for Curia constructed; Catholic kindergarten, primary school and secondary school established; churches in Krustpils, Dauvapils, Karsava, Skilbeni, as well as Lauderi and Ratnieki prayer house consecrated; baroque church in Pasiene restored, church in Brigi renovated; Sacral Culture Centre in Balvi, parish house in Ludza, and chapel of Preili Castle consecrated, etc. Bishop specially cares for the shrines of Our Lady in Aglona and Pasiene. At the same time new churches are built in Rezekne and Daugavpils. Prayer books are published in Latvian and Latgalian. During these years a lot is prayed for new vocations to priesthood. Almost half of all priests who serve in the diocese are consecrated by bishop Jānis Bulis.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, Rezekne

Facade of the church is in pseudo-romantic style, but its altar is pseudo-gothic. The first church was wooden and was built in 1685 with the help of Belinsky, voevoda of Cracow.  It burnt down during a storm in 1887. Already a year later construction of a new church began according to the project of Florians Viganovskis, engineer from Riga. Construction works continued until 1902. Now it is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Latvia. It was consecrated in 1914. When visiting the Cathedral, it is worthwhile to pay attention to wooden altars decorated with the sculptures of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, St. Therese and other saints. Cathedral is famous for its stained glass where first bishops of Livonia, St. Meinhard and St. Albert, are depicted.


Diocese of Jelgava

Territory: 13 620 km2.

Bishop:  Edvards Pavlovskis.

Website: www.jelgavaskatedrale.lv

Parishes and mission points: 63

Statistics for 2015: 752 baptisms, 151 weddings, 606 funerals, 312 First communions, 151 463 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2014: 891 baptisms, 117 weddings, 571 funerals, 276 First communions, 142 575 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2013: 800 baptisms, 102 weddings, 600 funerals, 312 First communions, 149 326 distributed Hosts.

Feast

Our Lady of Skaistkalne is Protectress of Latvian families. Every year in Skaistkalne church on the 1st Sunday of May feast of Queen of Land of Mary is celebrated, but on the 1st Sunday of August – feast of Protectress of Latvian families, known also as feast of Kanepene. The feast is 3 days long and during these days people especially pray for the sick, married couples and families.

History

Diocese of Jelgava was established on 25 March 1996, separating it from the diocese of Liepaja. As its first bishop was appointed Antons Justs. Diocesan territory includes Zemgale, the left bank of the river Daugava.

Since 1996 are built: Jelgava Catechetical Centre (1997), Kalnciema church (1998), Jelgava Diocesan Centre (1999), Nereta church (2000), Priedaine church (2002), Dobele church (2003), Zemgale church (2006), Convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Jelgava (2008), Iecava church (2009), and Tukums Pastoral Centre (2010).

Bishop Antons Justs led the diocese until 22 July 2011 when pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation and nominated Edvards Pavlovskis as next bishop of Jelgava.

Cathedral of Mary Immaculate

Cathedral is the most famous work in Latvia of Kārlis Strandmanis, architect from Liepaja. The first catholic church at the same place was built with the help of Friedrich, the Duke of Courland, between 1635 and 1645. As the old church was in bad condition, in 1904 it was demolished.  In 1906 the new church was finished and dedicated to St. George. In 1925 bishop Rancāns consecrated the church and gave it a title of Mary Immaculate. The red brick building in neo-gothic style became one of the largest sacral buildings in the city.

The church suffered heavily during the Second World War but it was renovated with the help of parish priest Ancāns. The tower in its original height was restored only in 1992. On 25 March 1996 pope John Paul II granted the church cathedral status.


Diocese of Liepaja

Territory: 13 210 km2.

Bishop: Viktors Stulpins.

Website: www.katedrale.lv

Parishes and mission points: 32

Statistics for 2015: 339 baptisms, 61 weddings, 112 funerals, 69 First communions, 61 692 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2014: 232 baptisms, 60 weddings, 135 funerals, 93 First communions, 82 303 distributed Hosts.

Statistics for 2013:  295 baptisms, 54 weddings, 150 funerals, 74 First communions, 82 164 distributed Hosts.

Feast

Feast day of St. Joseph – 19 March, patron saint of St. Joseph’s Cathedral.

History

Diocese of Liepaja was established in 1937 and included Kurzeme and Zemgale. At the same time the archbishopric of Riga became Metropolia. As metropolitan was appointed Antonijs Springovičs, archbishop of Riga, but the first bishop of Liepaja became dean Antonijs Urbšs. In 1944 bishop Urbšs was deported to Germany and Julijans Vaivods, chancellor of the Curia of Liepaja, was appointed manager of the diocese of Liepaja.

In 1947 Pēteris Strods, Seminary rector, became a bishop and apostolic administrator of the diocese of Liepaja.

In 1958 metropolitan archbishop Springovičs died and Riga Metropolia ceased to exist as ecclesiastical province. From now one the archdiocese of Riga and the diocese of Liepaja was managed by one apostolic administrator.

In 1991 Riga Metropolia was restored and both dioceses again had their own bishop. As bishop of the diocese of Liepaja was appointed Jānis Bulis.

In 1995 Zemgale was separated from the diocese of Liepaja, establishing the diocese of Jelgava. In 1996 bishop of Liepaja became Ārvaldis Andrejs Brumanis.

After the retirement of bishop Brumanis in 2001, the new bishop became Vilhelms Lapelis.

In 2012 bishop Lapelis resigned and as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Liepaja was appointed bishop Pavlovskis. On 7 September 2013 Viktors Stulpins was appointed as new bishop of Liepaja.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Liepaja

At the place of the current church was a small Catholic church consecrated on 28 July 1762. Since then parish grew bigger and there was a need for more space. As parish had difficulty to get a permit for the construction of a new church, in 1894 parishioners began as if the renovation of the old one that was finished in 1900. Large, from yellow, so-called, Danzig brick building with a complex layout was designed by Luiss Melvils. Bricks used in construction, each in an individual package were transported from abroad. They got their look as if from the colour mixed with eggs and honey.