Church complex of the Observant Franciscan friars, Boćki
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Church complex of the Observant Franciscan friars



One of the most significant complexes erected by the Sapieha noble family in the Podlasie region, designed by eminent architects of the first half of the 18th century (Osiecki, Klemm). The complex is characterised by its eye-catching design, combining the simplicity of the church and monastery (a typical feature of Franciscan monastic architecture) with the more dynamic, informal architecture of the bell tower and perimeter wall.


In 1725, the owner of the surrounding lands, Franciszek Józef Sapieha and his wife Krystyna Sapieha née Branicka founded the monastery of the Observant Franciscan friars, which was designed to serve as a worthy place for the safekeeping of the relic of the Thorn from Christ’s crown. The construction of the church and the adjoining quadrangular monastery building commenced in 1726, with the design being produced by friar Mateusz Osiecki, an architect and member of the Order of the Observant Franciscan friars. Year 1739 brought the completion of the works, with the monks being able to settle in the newly erected monastery. The church was consecrated slightly later, in 1744. During the same year, the benefactor of the monastery passed away and was buried in the side chapel of the church. In the years 1744-46, the bell tower, designed by Johann Heinrich Klemm, was constructed near the church, with the funds being provided by Franciszek Józef Sapieha’s widowed wife, Krystyna. The same architect was also responsible for the design of the perimeter wall and chapels. In the later years, both the Branicki and Potocki families have made pecuniary contributions towards the Observant Franciscan friars. In 1832, the monastery was dissolved, with the church becoming the seat of the Boćki parish. In 1902, the monastery building was taken over by the Orthodox community, who have allowed the Catholics to use parts of the structure from 1906 onwards; in 1912, the decision was taken by the Orthodox Christian owners of the building to demolish three of its wings, leaving only the one which adjoined the church. The construction materials salvaged from the monastery were used, among others, to construct the western section of the perimeter wall. During World War II, the roofs of the church and the bell tower were destroyed, with the repair works being carried out after the war came to an end. The individual sections of the complex were being renovated on an ongoing basis.


The complex is situated in the eastern part of the village, next to the road leading towards Białystok, near the junction of the Bielska, Grunwaldzka and W. Łukasiewicza streets. It was designed in the Baroque style.

The complex consists of the church and the monastery wing which adjoins its south-western façade, the bell tower with tower clock as well as the perimeter wall incorporating 15 shrines and an entrance gate positioned on the axis of the church entrance. In the middle of the complex stands a masonry church, its chancel facing the south-east; the church features a towerless front façade with a narrower, rectangular chancel and a two-storey chapel-sacristy adjoining its north-eastern side. The south-western façade is adjoined by the two-storey wing of the former monastery, covered with a shed roof. The bell tower is positioned in the northern section of the complex, in front of the church itself; it is a three-storey structure designed on a square floor plan, with truncated corners and a steeple on top. The entire complex is circumscribed by a brick wall designed on a roughly rectangular plan, with a separate forecourt ahead of the church. The entrance gate takes the form of a pair of openwork posts which appear to have been built around the cylindrical columns within; it is flanked by a pair of wicket gates, although one of them is now bricked up. The perimeter wall surrounding the square in front of the church incorporates a number of small shrines covered with gable rooflets and featuring shallow, semi-domical niches.

Site accessible to visitors.

compiled by Grażyna Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 21-12-2014.


  • Błachut A. J., Brat Mateusz Osiecki i jego dzieło, Warsaw 2003, pp. 24-32.
  • Diecezja drohiczyńska. Spis parafii i duchowieństwa, Drohiczyn 2004, pp. 156-158.
  • Kaczorowski B., Fundacje i sprawy artystyczne w „Państwie Boćkowskim” Franciszka Józefa Sapiehy, “Biuletyn Historii Sztuki”, 50 (1988), no. 1-2, pp. 59-70.
  • Kałamajska-Saeed M., Modelowy wystrój kościoła reformatów w Boćkach, “Biuletyn Historii Sztuki”, 42 (1980), no. 2, pp. 145-158.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1726-1739
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: prof. Witolda Łukaszewicza 2, Boćki
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district bielski, commune Boćki
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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