Church of the Holy Spirit

Javorca

The memorial Churc of the Holy Spirit in Javorca, the valley of Tolminka river, is a unique monument of the World War I, dedicated to the fallen Austro-Hungarian soldiers who died at the Tolmin section of the Isonzo Front. It was build in 1916, between March 1 and November 1, by the soldiers of 3rd Austro-Hungarian Mountain Brigade, who did the works with great zeal. As volunteers, over one thousand soldiers participated in building and preparing the required material. Among them, there were many master craftsmen and manufacturers, dragged in the turmoil of the war. In the final appearance of the church, skills and masterfulness of stonemasons, blacksmiths, carpenters, cabinet-makers, painters, and other masters are reflected. The design of the church was made by Remigius Geyling, an architect, stage designer and painter from Vienna, who had come to the Soča region as a first lieutenant of the Austro-Hungarian army. The construction work was headed by first lieutenant Geza Jablonszky.

The location for the church was chosen deliberately: it stands at an approximately equal distance (about 2,5 km) from the then key-positions on Vodil Vrh, Mrzli Vrh, Sleme, and Rdeči Rob, namely, it presents a central point of the area. The church was built on rocky grounding on the slope. A monumental stairway leads to the entrance, it is surrounded by a low wall of stone. The lower part of the church is built of stone blocks, which were cut in nearby quarries and then built in a mighty stone wall, on which the wooden upper part is based. A bell tower with a sundial and a double Austro-Hungarian coat-of-arms rises above the entrance. The facades are decorated with a series of coats-of-arms of all the then Austro-Hungarian provinces, painted by Remigio Geyling in a fresco technique on wooden plates, which were put in between the windows. The interior is devided into three-sided presbytery and rectangular nave with a low wooden shed. Of significant mark is the art nouveau interior with its ornamental painting. Blue shades predominate, with emphasis of golden decoration, while the altar is white and gold painted. The wooden part of the altar was made by Anton Perathoner, master from South Tyrol. Into oak boards, which open as sheets of a book along the walls of the nave, names of the fallen soldiers are burnt. Most of these soldiers are buried in the military cemetery at Loče near Tolmin.

The chapel served for daily services already during the war. It was a refuge for soldiers on leave from the nearby battlegrounds. This was an assembly point for Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Atheists. For some of them, this was indeed a House of God, for others a blessed place, a sanctuary where they could meditate in peace in quiet and forget the woes of war for at least a brief moment. The church still serves its purpose nowadays, as the visitors of different nationalities and faith gather there for prayers and worship. It also stands as a symbol of peace and concordance, which is expressed by the inscription on the bell tower: PAX - PEACE.

Climatic conditions in the Alps as well as other natural inconvenience threaten the church. It was thoroughly restored twice so far: first by the Italians in 1934, and then, at the start of the 1980s, by the Gorica Monument Protection Institute. The last bigger intervention was performed in 1998 after the earthquake, when mostly the stairway and the surrounding wall were damaged.

Die Gedächtniskirche des Heiligen Geistes in Javorca - Hundert Jahre »der Friedensbasilika« (In German)

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