Back in the days cathedrals, churches and other kinds of sacral architecture determined the face and the soul of the city. Lviv, being a multicultural city with over 700-year history, boasts a great number of religious buildings which are considered the masterpieces of the architectural craft. The glorious outline of Latin Cathedral dominates the skyline of modern Lviv.
The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, usually called simply the Latin Cathedral is a 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral in Lviv. It is located in the city's Old Town, in the south western corner of the market square, called Cathedral Square. With various chunks dating from between 1370 and 1480, this functioning Latin Cathedral is one of Lviv’s most impressive churches. The exterior is most definitely Gothic, while the heavily gilded interior, one of the city’s highlights, has a more baroque feel, with colorfully wreathed pillars hoisting frescoed vaulting and mysterious side chapels glowing in candlelit half-light. Services are in four languages, including English.
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The first church built on this site was a small wooden Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1344 and lost in a fire six years later. In 1360, the king Casimir III of Poland founded the construction of the present day church, built in Gothic style, for a cathedral of the newly created Latin diocese. The church was consecrated in 1405 and the parish was moved here from the church of Mary of Snow. In 1412 the seat of the bishop was transferred from Halych. Construction work continued throughout the 15th century and in 1481 the Cathedral was finally consecrated.
The cathedral witnessed many significant events and was visited by several Polish kings, most notably John II Casimir, who in the Cathedral entrusted the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under the care of the Blessed Virgin in what came to known as the Lwów Oath. In 1440 the Metropolitan of Kyiv, Cardinal Isidore celebrated the Holy Mass offered for the intention of Christian Unity, when he stopped in Lviv returning from the Council of Florence.
The central place of the church is occupied by the main altar of Rococo style from 1765-1771 by Piotr Polejowski project. The altar is adorned by four figures of Church Fathers such as St. Augustine, St. George, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome by the authorship of Maciej Polejowski. In the middle part of the altar two silver reliquaries by the XVIII century with the relics of different Saints are located. Right above the tabernacle the silver reliquary with the temporal remains of blessed Jakub Strzemię (about 1392-1409) the patron of Lviv archdiocese is fixed.
The musical organ at the musical choir dated since 1839 by Roman Ducheński from Lviv is still running. From the central part of the musical prospectus the stained glass window of Virgin Mary Queen of Angels with the Polish and Lithuanian Emblems by Teodor Axentowicz from the end of the XIX c. can be seen.
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The Latin Cathedral is one of the just two churches in Lviv that have not been closed or subjected to the Muscovite Patriarchate during Soviet rule (the other being the Roman Catholic church of St. Anthony in Lychakiv), however during that time the bishops resided in Lubaczów, a town in southeastern Poland, close to the border with Ukraine. In 1991 Pope John Paul II reactivated the diocese.
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