St John the Baptist Parish Church, Bielsk
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St John the Baptist Parish Church

Bielsk

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The church is an example of neo-Gothic architecture from the early 20th century in the Mazovian region. It was designed by renowned and recognised architect Józef Pius Dziekoński The building is the highest church in the Płock diocese and therefore has significant landscape value.

History

The first wooden parish church of St John the Baptist in Bielsk existed probably already in the late 11th century. Bielsko, as the village was called until the 16th century, belonged to the Benedictine monastery in Mogiła. Since the 14th century, Bielsko had already had municipal rights. The next church was erected in the 15th century. Later, it was destroyed on several occasions: by fire or as a result of Swedish Wars, to name a few. Since the 16th century, Bielsk had been losing its significance and in the 19th century it lost its municipal rights. According to the bishop survey of 1856, at that time the church was in a poor condition. However, it survived until the early 20th century.

The present neo-Gothic church was designed by Józef Pius Dziekoński and erected in the years 1909-1912 at the initiative of priest Józef Michnikowski. It was consecrated by the then bishop of the Płock diocese, and now the beatified archbishop Antoni Julian Nowowiejski. During World War II, in the years 1941-5, the church was used by Germans as a storehouse.

In 2012, the 100th anniversary of the consecration of the church was celebrated.

Description

The St John the Baptist Church is located in the centre of the Bielsk village, at the Wolności Square.

The temple is built of brick and not plastered. It is a hall, oriented, three-nave church with a transept and a separated chancel, terminating in a semi-hexagon. In the front façade there are two towers, with the southern one being slightly higher. As it is mentioned in the archival press, the builders intended the higher tower to be a copy of the tower of St Mary’s church in Cracow; the lower one is in turn topped with a cupola inspired by the one from the Poznań Cathedral. In front of the entrance, over the narthex topped with a wall and triangular gable, there are niches with stone figures of Jesus Christ, St Peter and St Paul. In a niche in the wall behind the chancel, there is a stone Crucifixion group. Both groups of sculptures originate from the times of construction of the church.

In the interior, the naves are separated by piers with a stellar cross-section, placed on octagonal plinths. Vaults are diamond-stellar, and the walls of the side naves are partitioned with piers. The rood and three choir arcades are pointed-arch. Windows have tracery decoration.

The church features modern interior fittings, e.g. interesting painted decorations depicting the history of Christianity in Poland (1984-5). However, most of the fixtures, fittings, and liturgical artefacts in the church originate from the period between the 17th and the 19th century. Particular attention should be paid to the Baroque reliquary of St Joseph Calasanz, which dates back to the 2nd half of the 17th century. It has a form of a cross with trefoil-ended arms and is decorated with semi-precious gemstones.

The church can be viewed from the outside; inside, it can be viewed outside the hours of religious services.

compiled by Bartłomiej Modrzewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warszawa, 10-11-2015.

Bibliography

  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. X, Dawne województwo warszawskie, red. I. Galicka, H. Sygietyńska, z. 15, Okolice, Płocka, oprac. I. Galicka, H. Sygietyńska, inwent. D. Kaczmarzyk, Warszawa 1992.
  • Parafia Rzymskokatolicka pw. św. Jana Crzciciela w Bieslku, http://parafiabielsk.pl/parafia, dostęp: 10 listopada 2015.
  • „Wieści Gminne. Pismo Urzędu Gminy Bielsk”, lipiec 2012.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1909 - 1912
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pl. Wolności 20a, Bielsk
  • Location: Voivodeship mazowieckie, district płocki, commune Bielsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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