Despite being nearly obliterated during World War II, St. Bridget’s Church in central Gdańsk was reconstructed in the 1970s based on the original designs dating back to the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
Legend has it that this grand church was erected on the grounds of a small chapel where the remains of the 14th-century saint and mystic, Bridget of Sweden, lay for a few days, as they were carried from Rome to Sweden in 1374. This event marked the inception of St. Bridget’s veneration and led to the establishment of the first Bridgettine Convent in Gdańsk a few years later.
The restored St. Bridget’s Church boasts several exceptional and unique attractions. Foremost among them is the Amber Altar, a work still in progress. Amber, a fossilized tree resin found abundantly in the Baltic Sea region, has been carved into impressive altar sculptures that depict St. Bridget of Sweden, the Virgin Mary, St. Elizabeth Hesselblad, and a monstrance containing relics of Pope Saint John Paul II.
Other amber-sculpted pieces feature the emblem of Poland, memorials to the Soviet massacre of Polish officers at Katyń, and crosses utilized during the Solidarność strikes. The altar is one of the world’s largest amber projects.
The Amber Altar is not the only intriguing feature of the church. In 2010, workers stumbled upon a previously undiscovered crypt containing hundreds of bones. Although the identities of these remains are unknown, the prevailing theory posits that they belong to individuals interred in shallow graves around the church in the 17th century that were subsequently relocated to the crypt.
These bones, particularly a somber wall adorned with skulls, are open to visitors. The crypt also houses relics attributed to St. Bridget of Sweden.
Know Before You Go
The visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sundays. The entrance fee is 4 Polish zloty for a full-price ticket (equivalent to less than $1 USD).