An old Church that Blew my Mind : Church of St John, Stary Miasto, Gdansk

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It is funny that this church is called the church of St. John, because this church is definitely a woman.

My Polish soul-sister Magda, brought me here one afternoon, as she had the challenging job of decorating it for one of her best friend’s wedding a week from now. We spent over an hour here. I could have spent more. The interior-architect-designer in me awoke, my jaw dropped, I was completely swept off my feet. For me this church was nothing short of sensational. What a design project this would be if I were given the job of decorating it for a wedding.

I’ve been to a number of churches, big and small, strange and beautiful, contemporary and traditional,  and since I was a child, something about a church’s peace and serenity, connects with me, although I am not Christian by birth.

This the first time though that I feel compelled to write about one. 

I’m not going to get into the history of the Church as yet, as you can look it up on google or wikipedia. I’m going to briefly describe the feminine quality of this church, with her peeling layers of skin, with her wrinkles and scars, and with her asymmetry and strength.

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The Church is massive. Upon entering you can immediately see the age, because it has been preserved as it is is without much renovation to it’s surfaces, so that you can see it’s brickwork boldly appearing from behind the paint and plaster.

Like a woman. It has survived through the ages, through many falls and burns, massive wounds, and now she stands, looking fragile on the surface, but immensely strong in it’s foundation and structure. There is something deeply delicate about the church, as if she were an old lady seated on a chair, crouching a little and smiling, transparent, eyes shining with stories.

The seats are not spectacular, nothing like old wooden chairs that you find  in many churches, but strangely, movie style seats.  The ceilings are laden with stage lights and props for performances. Yet it does nothing to affect the actual character and beauty of the church. She needs no makeup, and makeup does not hide what she is.

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Flying arches and naves, solid structure, yet fragile, as if she would bend and stoop if her heart were exposed.

Broken brickwork has not been fully restored, purposefully lending an air of perfect imperfection.

This church bares her heart, yet tries to hide, her femininity peeping out of corners, yet impossible to conceal, she stands proud and tall, not willing to break, and sometimes it feels like she is smiling through tears.

If there is one church in the world I have fallen in love with, it is this.

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