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Līksna Roman Catholic Church (1913)

The construction of Līksna Roman Catholic congregation’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Church was completed in 1913. The Līksna Roman Catholic Church was built in the Neo-Gothic style. The silhouette of the church is the most notable in the Daugava Valley landscape in the area near Koša Lake.

The history of Līksna Church is to a large degree connected with the work of the Jesuit Order. When the Swedish captured Rīga in 1621, they drove the Jesuits out. They were given refuge by Ilūkste Baron Bartholomew Sieberg, who owned a vast estate: Ilūkste, Dviete, Pilskalnes, Dunava, Rubeņi, Bebrene, Svente, Līksna, Nīcgale and Ķirupe. Here – on both sides of the Daugava – the Jesuits engaged in the work of recatholization.

A Jesuit mission worked in Līksna for a long period, and was initially subordinate to the Ilūkste, but later - to the Daugavpils Residence. From 1635 the Jesuit work at Sieberg’s estate became more active, as the last Lutheran priest in Ilūkste had passed away. Count Sieberg’s son, Jānis, gave the Ilūkste Church to the Catholics, placing it in the care of the Jesuits.

Polish King Wladislaw IV confirmed that Ilūkste would belong to the Catholics forever. It is mentioned in the Jesuit Order's membership list for Lithuanian province in 1771 – 1772, that Father Miķelis Butovičs was particularly active in Līksna. He was active here for 17 years. When the Mogiļova Archdiocese was founded in 1783, its first Archbishop S.Siestžencevičs established the Daugavpils (Lejas) Deacon’s Chair in Līksna. In 1789, the Jesuits then finished their activity in Līksna, and care of it was taken over by the general clergy. Some of the deacons from Līksna were very famous and eminent. From 1826 until 1856 Canon Tomass Kosakovskis, who published a number of books in the Latvian language, lived in Līksna

Following this, his work was continued by Deacon Tomass Kopecs. Dean (later Archbishop) A.Springovičs (1905 – 1918) was a notable figure in Līksna. The first church in Līksna was built in 1748 in the courtyard of the Līksna Manor House. It was built by the owners of the estate, the Ludingshausen – Wolfs. It is not known what material this church was made of as it has not survived until today. The first Līksna congregation church was built of bricks in 1798 from funds provided by Count Plater – Sieberg. It was consecrated by Bishop Valerians Kamionka in 1819 in honour of the Holy Family. Judging from old photographs, it was quite a large church with two towers, in the baroque style. After the construction of a new church, the one in the manor courtyard was re-designated a chapel. In the period from 1909 until 1913 Dean (later Archbishop) A.Springovičs built a new stone church in Līksna.

The year of construction, “1912”, is marked on the Līksna Church facade. The church is a brick building in the Neo-Gothic style and was built closer to the Rīga – Daugavpils highway than the old one which was demolished and from its masonry a new two storey parsonage building was constructed. The funds for the construction were provided by the members of the congregation and the lord of the manor. During the First World War the church was damaged by an artillery barrage. On the 15th October 1915, the Līksna church was shelled by the Germans with light artillery, causing minor damage. In the month of December The Germans made the church a target for their heavy artillery. Six shells hit the building and caused serious damage: the walls had holes in three places and the vault caved in. On the 9th February 1916, the church was shelled by 8 inch artillery.

The presbytery part of the church and one tower was ruined, and the side walls received cracks. After the war, in the 1920’s the church was repaired. The church is a red brick building; the bricks were purchased in Poland. The roof and the towers are covered with galvanized tinplate. The Līksna Church is a 30 m long and 17 m wide triple nave building in a Neo-Gothic style with a tiled floor. There are two symmetrical towers on either side of the entrance, the third, smaller, is over the presbytery, built like that to preserve the architectural style. There are three bells in the towers, 609 kg, 124 kg, and 62 kg in weight. In the front part above the door there is a large window displaying a statue of Jesus’ Heart. The floor is of cement tiles, but the ceiling features stone vaults supported by 5 pairs of pillars which divide the church into three naves. The walls have lime finish, but the ribbed connections (the so-called cross vaults) have been left in red brick.

Three of the altars are of oak timber, crafted in Gothic style. The ambry is also of oak, with plaster frames for paintings depicting the Way of the Cross. The large altar has a statue of Jesus Heart with pictures of saints on both sides. The Līksna Church is also dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On the right side, there is St. Joseph’s altar with St. Anthony’s picture above it, but on the left side - the St. Francis of Assisi altar.  Next to the presbytery, there stand plaster statues of St. Anthony and St. Theresa. The presbytery is separated from the church by an iron table of the Holy Communion. On both sides of the presbytery there are large vestries. On the left side there is also a door, but on the right – the Lourdes Virgin's chapel with an altar. In either side walls there are five large windows without any stained glass panels. Next to the presbytery there are smaller windows and thus it is rather dark. The wide choir space accommodates a large organ, which was purchased during the time in office of Dean J.Kalnišs.

The organ has a very pleasant sound. The church has a full set of liturgical inventory. The church is surrounded by a large garden. It is encircled by a high red brick wall, built by Dean J.Kalnišs. Dean Pāvils Vaičulonis (1867 – 1929) is buried in the church garden. On the site of the demolished church about 1.5 km from the new church, a stone chapel has been built to commemorate the location. Now it is in a very poor condition. The Līksna Church was last painted in 1964 with oil-based paint, and the ceiling was whitewashed. There is electricity in the church, but no heating, only the vestry is heated. As time passed, it turned out that the bricks used for the church walls were of low quality. They started to flake, and that is why in 1939 Dean J.Kalnišs began to gradually remove them and replace them with new ones.

It was a major challenge, but he replaced more than 60 000 bricks. As Dean J.Kalnišs lived at Līksna for not quite 20 years, sometimes Archbishop A.Springovičs appreciated his work and said: “You and I built Līksna Church.” After Dean J.Kalnišs moved to Dagda as Deacon, Pēteris Vaivods was appointed Līksna’s Dean. The priests, Bishop E.Ropps, Prelate A.Novickis, K.Skrinda, Benedikts Skrinda and Ādams Ivbulis all hail from Līksna congregation. Tomass Kosakovskis (1798 – 1856) is buried in the Līksna congregation’s cemetery.

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