Parish church of St Catherine of Alexandria, Brodnica
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Parish church of St Catherine of Alexandria

Brodnica

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One of the most outstanding Gothic churches of the Chełmno region, the building features a lavishly designed eastern gable rising above the chancel, with its distinctive curtain wall topped with openwork decorations. Inside, the church is graced with preserved Gothic architectural detailing made of artificial stone, brick and wood, including the decorative corbels, canopies and wall rib capitals. The wooden figures of the Apostles, likewise dating back to the Gothic era, are especially valuable.

History

The church of St Catherine was erected in a number of stages, with the funds being provided either by the Teutonic Order or Mikołaj Wolwelin from Sandomierz, the local parish priest. The construction of the chancel is believed to have commenced in 1310, with the main body of the hall church being erected in the years 1340-1370; in the second half of the 14th century, the interior received its vaulted ceiling; the western part of the church was completed at that point, although only one of the two contemplated towers has been erected; the ground floor section of the tower was designed to house the chapel of the Holy Cross with a semi-hexagonal apse projecting from its southern side. In 1660, the church of St Catherine was consecrated for the second time (the date of its first consecration remains unknown) by bishop Adam Kos. The chancel gable was restored in the years 1340-1370 and in 1927. In the years 1994-1997, the church underwent a series of renovation works which involved the repainting of the interior, the refurbishment of the tower as well as the conservation of the twelve Gothic sculptures of the Apostles.

Description

The church forms part of the Old Town district; it is situated north-east of the Large Market Square, on Farna street. The churchyard is partially surrounded by a brick wall leading along its southern and eastern sides.

The main body of the church, designed in the Gothic style and oriented towards the east, was erected on a rectangular floor plan. The four-bay nave is adjoined by the three-bay chancel, likewise designed on a rectangular plan and adjoined in turn by a square sacristy positioned on the northern side thereof. Originally, a similar sacristy was also present on the southern side of the chancel. The western façade of the church is adjoined by a rectangular tower, an entrance porch and the Chapel of Christ the King.

The silhouette of this hall church, relatively uniform in shape, is dominated by a monumental tower topped with an octagonal spire.

The nave and the chancel feature separate gable roofs.

The church is a brick structure based on the use of both the monk bond and the Polish (Gothic) bond, with overburnt brick being used extensively for decorative purposes, forming W-, V- and rhombus-shaped motifs. The pointed-arch window openings are splayed on both sides. The nave, the chancel, the chapel of Christ the King as well as the vestibule feature stellar vaults with six ribs each. The sacristy, the side aisles and the Chapel of the Holy Cross feature vaulted ceilings of the cross-rib type.

The side façades of the church are pierced with pointed-arch windows flanked by buttresses; the northern and southern façades of the main body are adjoined by low porches, while the western section of the southern façade also features a projecting, semi-hexagonal apse of the chapel.

The western façade is asymmetrical in design and features an entrance portal positioned on the middle axis, topped with a trefoil arch; a part of the southern façade is obscured by the monumental tower with a low, pointed-arch entrance portal leading into the chapel of the Holy Cross. The tower itself is crowned with a crenellated parapet and an octagonal spire. The upper section of a part of the northern façade is graced by a pair of stepped gables above which rises the triangular gable of the main body, adorned with lesenes, pinnacles and pointed-arch blind windows.

The eastern façade follows a single-axial layout with a tall, bricked-up pointed-arch window; it is topped with a stepped gable adorned with slender pinnacles, the uppermost sections of the walls between them pierced with circular apertures surmounted by wimpergs.

Inside, the profiled arcades separating the nave and the side aisles is supported by low, octagonal pillars.

The main nave and the chancel feature stellar vaults with sculpted bosses made of artificial stone, dating back to the second half of the 14th century and adorned by various figural and animal motifs.

The walls of the main body and the vaulted ceilings are adorned with Gothic painted decorations consisting of foliate ornamentation, fragments of figural scenes as well as bands carrying inscriptions written in medieval minuscule.

The fixtures and fittings of the church include an ensemble of wooden sculptures dating back to the Gothic era and depicting the 12 Apostles, positioned alongside the pillars in the main nave, on stone corbels from the fourth quarter of the 14th century, a Baroque altarpiece from the mid-17th century, incorporating the painting of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the side altarpieces form the 17th century and the 18th century as well as a Late Baroque pulpit from the second quarter of the 18th century, a hexagonal granite baptismal font dating back to the 15th century and the choir stalls bearing the hallmarks of both the Gothic and the Renaissance style.

Accessible historic building. The interiors are open to visitors during church service.

compiled by Marzenna Stocka, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Toruń, 22-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Diecezja toruńska. Historia i teraźniejszość, t. 3, Dekanat brodnicki, 1998, s. 43-65
  • Szkice brodnickie, t.2, red. K. Grążawski, Brodnica 2006, s. 47

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1310 - 2. poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Farna 1, Brodnica
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district brodnicki, commune Brodnica (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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