Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church of Pardon — the Church In the Field, Bralin
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Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church of Pardon — the Church In the Field

Bralin

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The church “In the Field” is one of the largest wooden churches in Greater Poland. It is an extraordinary example of wooden religious architecture which also plays a significant role for the intangible cultural heritage of the region, being an important place of worship. It is an example of successful conservation of old wooden buildings — in 1993, the parish received the honourable “Europa Nostra” medal for the restoration of the church. Despite over 300 years which have passed since its construction, it has retained its exceptional character of a church visited by pilgrims and those seeking indulgence.

History

The church is situated on a low hill, among the fields, approximately 1.5 kilometres south of the village of Bralin. It was built on a spot where, as legend has it, St Jadwiga prayed for the liberation of her husband, Henry I the Bearded, Duke of Silesia, back in the 13th century. After that event, miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary were reported to have taken place there. The tradition of annual pilgrimages to the church began in 1630, after a cholera epidemic. The cult of the Virgin Mary of the Fields continues to thrive to this day. Fortunately, the church managed to survive World War II.

Written records mention a church in Pólko (“Little Field”) for the first time in 1651, although it is said that a cross stood there as early as in 1630 and was followed by a chapel. The current church was erected in 1711. The first restoration of the church took place in 1801. In 1936, the interior wall paintings were renovated. The most recent restoration works were performed in the 1980s and in the years 2010-2011. The coronation of the image of the Virgin Mary of the Fields took place in 2013.

Description

The church “In the Field” in Bralin is a filial church of the St Anne Parish in Bralin. It is situated on a low hill, among the fields, about 2 kilometres south from the seat of the Bralin parish.

The church, oriented towards the east, has a log structure and is covered with weatherboards. It features a layout that is seldom seen in churches of Greater Poland, i.e. that of a Greek cross with tapering arms. There is a sacristy between the northern and the western arm. The church features intersecting three-pitched roofs covered with wood shingles. At the junction of the roof ridges, there is an octagonal steeple with two roof lanterns, one on top of the other, crowned with a bulbous dome. The church can be accessed on all four sides. A Baroque turret rises at the intersection of the nave and the aisles. The church graveyard was initially surrounded by a fence made of wood, which formed a wooden cloister-type walkway on the east side and partially on the north and south sides, with quadrilateral chapels made of wooden logs at the corners. This cloister-type walkway, also known as “soboty” (“Saturdays”), was intended to provide a space where pilgrims, travelling to attend the Sunday mass during which they hoped to receive an indulgence, could rest. The exterior was covered with weatherboards; the roof rested on profiled piers with diagonal braces and had an exposed roof truss. The gate structure is reinforced by braces on the east side.

The interior of the church also has many features that make it unique. The central section features a false barrel vault, while the “arms” of the cross have simple beam ceilings. In the west wing, there is a music gallery, resting on nine piers, running along the walls. Instead of being located in an individuated chancel section, the main altar occupies the centre of the church. The altar features an 18th century painting of Mary with Child. Originally, the painting was adorned with a robe, which is now stored separately. The two-sided altar is surrounded by a balustrade having four sculptures of angels at its corners. On 2 September 2013, the coronation of the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary of the Fields took place.

The church can be viewed from the outside.

The Holy Mass is held on Sunday at 15:00. For a list of all church services, please visit the website: http://polko.bralin.com.pl/ramowy-kalendarz-nabozenstw. Individual visitors or groups of visitors who want to explore the church and its history can visit the office of the Roman Catholic Parish of St Anne in Bralin, 58 Wrocławska Street, or arrange a visit by calling (62) 307-04-18 or by sending an email to polko@bralin.com.pl. The parish office is open on Mondays and Fridays from 18:30 to 20:00 and on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8:00 to 9:30.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 03-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, t. 5, z. 7: Powiat kępiński, Warszawa 1958.
  • Krassowski W., Ze studiów nad detalami zabytkowych konstrukcji ciesielskich, [w:] Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki, t. 5, z. 1, s. 3-25.
  • Matyaszczyk D. (red.), Miejsca i obiekty kultu w Wielkopolsce. Prahistoryczne, chrześcijańskie i judaistyczne, Poznań 1996, s. 13-39, 45.
  • Perła architektury drewnianej. Trzysta lat kościoła odpustowego na Pólku p. Bralinem, Bralin 2011.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1711 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Bralin
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district kępiński, commune Bralin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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