History of Lomnitz


Before the advent of the official German Census in 1874, all Silesian family history was faithfully recorded by local churches and their records have been invaluable in tracing family lines. As political rulers changed, the region swung back and forth between the Catholic and Protestant faiths, often with violent destruction of valuable record books. So Catholics and Protestants at times worshipped in the same churches, exchanged churches and built new churches. To successfully search these records it is necessary to know the religious history of a particular town.


The Lomnitz Catholic church dates back to a wooden building constructed around AD 1300. The present day church was completed in Gothic style in 1490. At that time all Silesian churches were Catholic but this ended with the Reformation movement of Martin Luther. A wave of Protestant change swept through Silesia and the conversion of the churches was achieved without strife or violence. A Lutheran minister was installed in Lomnitz around 1525 and this became a Protestant church by decree. All this changed again in 1626, when Silesia came under the influence of the strongly Catholic Austrian Habsburg Empire. The religious Thirty Years War followed and when it was over in 1654 the Catholics emerged victorious and the church, like all others in Silesia, was restored to Catholicism. The official Catholic parish had moved to neighbouring Stonsdorf around 1614 and the Lomnitz congregation was now led by Jesuits from Hirschberg, catering for people of both faiths.


The restoration of Protestant religious freedom began in 1707 when Kaiser Josef sanctioned the building of the six huge Gnadenkirchen in Hirschberg, Landeshut, Militsch, Sagan, Freystadt and Teschen. Full Protestant rights were restored by the Prussian King Frederick the Great, when he wrested Silesia away from the Austrian Hapsburg Empire in 1740. The Lutheran congregation immediately set about building their own church. The first building was a wooden Bethaus, hastily completed in 1742 with available funds from the parishes of Lomnitz and Erdmannsdorf. The massive new Evangelische Kirche was then built diagonally across from the Catholic church and completed in 1751. This became the centre of Protestant life in Lomnitz. Eventually, after the eviction of the Germans in 1945, the Catholic Polish population had no further religious use for this church and it became a theatre and entertainment hall. It eventually fell into disrepair and was stripped and levelled in 1973, replaced with a grass lawn.


The original Catholic church regained full status when a new Catholic priest was installed in 1736. The church was then renovated and the parish eventually also included the villages of Erdmannsdorf, Stonsdorf and Zillertal. This church remained unchanged when Poland occupied Silesia in 1945 and is still in use today.