Complex of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Maryand St. Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr parish church, Bodzentyn
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Complex of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Maryand St. Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr parish church

Bodzentyn

photo

the largest of the churches originating from the 15th century in Lesser Poland, which is a simplified version of Cracow pillar and buttress basilicas of the 14th century. Fittings of the church date back to 15th-19th century and are one of the most important such complexes in northern Lesser Poland. They are comprised of items which are exceptional for the Polish art, and among other things: a late-Gothic triptych of Dormition of the Holy Virgin Mary, founded by bishop Jan Konarski, and a Renaissance main altar of 1546-50, made for the Wawel Cathedral on commission of Sigismund I the Old and bishop Samuel Maciejowski.

History

Bishops of Cracow had taken extraordinary care of the parish church in Bodzentyn for centuries, because until 1789 they were the owners of the town. The first, most probably wooden church was built by bishop Jan Bodzanta just before the Holy Spirit parish was established there in 1355. Another church (of the Holy Cross) was erected in 1380 by bishop Jan Radlica. In 1413, it was consumed by fire. The current, Gothic church, the then church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, was founded in 1440 by bishop Zbigniew Oleśnicki, as the canon congregation from Kielce was to move there. The construction was completed after 1454. After 1550, bishop Andrzej Zebrzydowski founded a belfry by it. In the 20s-30s of the 17th, the church was lowered and covered with new vaulting. In 1630, provostry was founded to it.  Before 1637, the church was renamed after bishop St. Stanislaus In the 10s-40s of the 18th century, part of the structure's fittings was replaced, including: in ca. 1728, a Renaissance altar formerly present in the Wawel Cathedral was brought from the collegiate church in Kielce. In the 90s of the 18th century, the belfry and church were damaged by fire. In 19th century, they underwent restoration a number of times (inter alia in 1815-18, 1848, 1851-53 and in the 60s-80s of the 19th century.). Between 1818 and 1848, the present church walls were built with the use of demolition material from the former fencing and bishop castle (a portal with Nałęcz coat of arms). In 1917, during the fire of the town, structures of the parish complex were damaged. Their reconstruction started almost immediately and was completed until 1929. Later on, the church and the belfry were renovated and reconstructed a number of times, inter alia in 1936-41, 1945-47, 1972-80, 1985-86, 1990-91, 2012. In years 1996-2012, virtually all elements of the church's fittings underwent maintenance works.

Description

The complex of the parish church is located in the centre of Bodzentyn, near the north-western corner of the market. Its elements — Gothic church, belfry, former cemetery and walls — occupy an irregular polygonal square. The church standing in the centre of this area is an oriented, three-nave, pillar and buttress basilica featuring four-bay body and three-bay, rectangular presbytery with a polygonal ending section. The northern wall of the presbytery is adjoined by lower, rectangular rooms, sacristy, and former treasury. At the second bay of the southern nave, there is a rectangular, low porch. The church is buttressed. It was made of brick arranged in a Gothic (Polish) pattern and entirely plastered.  The church is covered with a gable roof (over the main nave with a steeple), and a shed roof. Façades of the structure are plain, diversified by a row of buttresses and windows. Main and side entrances are emphasised by pointed-arch, profiled stone portals. The church's interior is covered with a barrel vault with lunettes (in the main nave and the presbytery with geometric plasterwork adorns), a double barrel vault (in side naves), and a ribbed groin vault (in the former sacristy and the former treasury - supports with Dębno coat of arms). Entrance to the sacristy and the former treasury are emphasised by stone portals originating from the mid-15th century, whereby the first portal is a stepped portal with bar tracery, and the other one is pointed-arch. The porch contains a valuable foundation plaque in bas-relief of 1452. Among the interior fittings of the church, the following items are worth attention, among other things: a Gothic sculpture of Mary with Child of ca. 1420, a stone baptismal font of 1492, a painting of Jesus Christ the Risen of early 16th century, a late-Gothic triptych of Dormition of the Holy Virgin Mary of ca. 1508 (by Marcin Czarny?), a Renaissance main altar made according to the design by Giovanni Cini by Italian and Cracow artists ca. in years 1545-50 (painting Crucifixion by Pietro degli Ingannati), gravestone of bishop Franciszek Krasiński (died in 1577, by Cracow workshop), Baroque rood ornamentation originating from the 1st quarter of the 18th century (in the mandorla, a late-Gothic crucifix of the 50s-60s of the 15th century by the Crucifix Master of Szaniec?), late-Baroque choir stalls and an ambo of the 30s-40s of the 18th century. The former church cemetery is surrounded by a wall with three gates; to the western gate a "marble" portal of ca. mid-17th century with Nałęcz coat of arms (by workshop of Chęciny) was later inserted. In the north-eastern part of the cemetery, there is a style-less, two-storey belfry on the plan of a square.  It is made of stone and brick and entirely plastered. The building is covered with a tented roof with a lantern. Its external façades are plain.

The historic building is accessible to visitors. It may be visited upon prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 15.01.2015.

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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: ok. 1440 r. - koniec lat 50 XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bodzentyn
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Bodzentyn - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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