Moravian village gets unique wooden chapel thanks to crowdfunding effort

Unique wooden chapel in the village of Nesvačilka, south-east of Brno

Czechia has a vast number of cathedrals, churches and chapels from centuries past and it is only rarely that new houses of prayer are built. One such endeavor is close to completion. The small Moravian village of Nesvačilka, which lacked a house of prayer for over 300 years, will soon have its own unique wooden chapel.

The village of Nesvačilka, south-east of Brno, established in 1715, never had its own chapel and the locals would have to walk to the church in neighbouring Moutnice to attend mass. Ten years ago, the parish priest of Moutnice, René Václav Strouhal, launched a public collection for a chapel to be built on the outskirts of Nesvačcilka village. He had a clear idea of how it should look.

Unique wooden chapel in the village of Nesvačilka,  south-east of Brno | Photo: Tomáš Kremr,  Czech Radio

“I wanted the chapel to reflect the character of this region –to grow up from it, so to say - and as you can see it is made from God’s divine gifts of Nature- clay, stone, wood, glass and light.

Donors from near and far contributed funds as well as wooden beams and other materials needed. The cornerstone for the chapel was blessed by the late Pope Benedict and work on it got underway in 2014.

Architect Jan Říčný who created the concept produced a unique work that met the stated requirements. The unusual house of prayer is now close to completion.

The tubular body of the chapel, made of stone and wood is 25 metres tall. A stone wall serves as a base for the wooden construction made of hundreds of wooden beams, many of which were contributed by private donors. Donors were allowed to write messages on the wood they contributed and the walls of the chapel are thus inscribed with hundreds of messages from people in Czechia and abroad. Seven thick, long beams point to the ceiling. They symbolise the seven sorrows of Mary, and in the middle is a wooden beam in the form of a cross that supports the roof and appears to hang suspended in the space above the altar.

Unique wooden chapel in the village of Nesvačilka,  south-east of Brno | Photo: Tomáš Kremr,  Czech Radio

Daylight enters the wooden chapel through a circular hole in the roof. Looking at it from below you can see that the chapel is not circular but oval shaped. Father Strouhal points out the symbolism with pride.

"The egg is an Easter symbol of new life. There are 55 windows around the chapel's perimeter, which will be lit up at night. The windows symbolise the tears of our Lady of Sorrows, for whom the new chapel has been named. ”

The chapel is beautiful in its simplicity. The altar and floor are made of pressed and polished clay. There is floor heating, powered by solar panels placed on the roof. A millstone lies on the ground behind the altar. Once used to grind flour, it will now serve to hold consecrated communion hosts. Next to it stands a large Paschal candle.

The priest hopes that one day the chapel will also get an organ. For the time being that is little more than a pipe dream and father Strouhal is now striving to collect the last two million crowns needed to complete the house of prayer.

Unique wooden chapel in the village of Nesvačilka,  south-east of Brno | Photo: Tomáš Kremr,  Czech Radio

Private donors have raised 13 million for the chapel in the last ten years, and now there is a new online collection for the remaining two million. The main construction of the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows is almost finished. It remains to furnish the interior and hang the bell.

Father Strouhal is hoping to consecrate the church next spring –ten years since work on it started.

However, the public will be able to see the as yet unfinished chapel on 28 April, of this year, when an evening concert will be held inside.

Although it is still unfinished, the chapel is already making headlines. In 2017 it won the architects’ prize for best wooden building of the year.