The Church of Vihti
This is the second church in Vihti, completed and dedicated in 1772. The construction work was supervised by Antti Piimänen, a renowned church builder.
The church has had its share of misfortune. Twice, in 1818 and 1846, it was destroyed by fires caused by lightning. The big chandelier from 1806 is just about the only thing remaining from the time of the first church.
In 1846, the present altarpiece, painted by Berndt Godenhjelm, was spared, for it had been stowed away in the vicarage awaiting the completion of repairs on the altar.
The church was thoroughly repaired in 1928-29. Under the direction of architect K.S. Kallio, the repairs followed the architectural trends of the 1920s. The original Gustavian style of the church was altered. Formerly cruciform, the church became a so-called long church. One arm of the cross was changed into a meeting hall for confirmation classes, the other into a sacristy, and the pulpit was moved from left to right. The paintings in the chancel ceiling, and the portraits of historically prominent persons in the balustrade of the organ loft, all by Paavo Leinonen, also date back to the time of repairs more than seven decades ago.
The outside of the church was repaired again in 1983.
After a six-month period of thorough repairs inside the church, under supervision of architect Carl-Johan Slotte, the church was rededicated on June 22, 1985. The heating system is now electric, a fire alarm and fire extinguishing system was installed, the lighting was partly renewed, and a new coat of paint was applied. The chancel has a new, more open appearance. Music has an important role in the life of the church, and now there is plenty of space for our choirs and orchestra.
The 16-stop organ up front, built by a local firm, was installed in 1990. The older, 27-stop organ dates back to 1929.
Christmastime services and summertime confirmation services fill the 550-seat church to capacity. On an average, 170 people gather together for the worship services which, in most Finnish churches, take place at 10 a.m. on Sundays and church holidays.
The first burials in the graveyard surrounding the main church took place just a few years after its dedication in 1772.
Outside the church, you can see a beautifully kept area of 232 graves of soldiers killed in World War II. The solemnity of that spot is further enhanced by a war memorial, sculpted by Heikki Varja and unveiled in 1951. Another memorial, on the edge of the graveyard close by, commemorates the dead resting in the soil of Finnish territory ceded to the Soviet Union as a result of World War II.
Finns like to visit the graves of their loved ones, and the gravesites are kept in good repair. In the summertime the Finnish cemeteries are flower-studded parks, and on Christmas Eve the darkness of the graveyards is dispelled by an ocean of candles.
Since 1890, most burials have taken place in the cemetery situated some two miles northwest of the church.