Hospital chapel, currently the Filial Church of the Holy Spirit, Bytom
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Hospital chapel, currently the Filial Church of the Holy Spirit

Bytom

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An example of a Baroque hospital chapel unique on a regional scale; one of the early modern structures modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem that were founded by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. At the same time, the only surviving material testimony of the Order’s continuous activity in Bytom from the 13th to the 19th century and the last remains of the hospital complex that operated in this place from the Middle Ages.

History

The history of the present Filial Parish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, goes back to a hospital known by the same name, run by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the present Stary Chorzów (Old Chorzów). By permission of Casimir II, Duke of Bytom, the hospital was moved from Chorzów to an area nearby the city walls of Bytom in 1299 and this is when the first wooden hospital chapel, intended for the patients, was constructed. The structure that has survived to this day, made of brick, was built in the 18th century. It was preceded by a number of much smaller, wooden structures, constructed on this side starting from the 13th/14th century, situated slightly to the north and surrounded by hospital buildings and the hospital cemetery.

The present chapel was built in the years 1721-1732 on the initiative of Provost Stanisław Stępowski. Its central, octagonal form was modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was one of the early modern artistic structures founded by the Order of the Holy Sepulchre within Lesser Poland, Red Ruthenia, and Silesia. It is supposed that the 17th-century morgue Chapel of St Barbara, being part of the Church of St James in Nysa, was modelled directly after the Bytom church.

In 1816, following the dissolution of the Order and the death of the last provost of the chapel, the structure and the hospital complex were taken over by the Bytom deanery diocese. In the mid-19th century, using the property taken over from the Chorzów Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the Wrocław curia was able to build a new hospital complex — the Institution of the Holy Spirit, situated in the immediate vicinity (on the south side of Krakowska Street), and at the beginning of the 20th century — the Krüppelheim zum Heiligen Geist complex, located in another part of the city, nearby the present Legionów Avenue. The chapel itself was constinuously used by the patients of the hospital at Krakowska Street. During the 1970s, as a result of mining damage, the old hospital building was dismantled; so was the 19th-century brick wall surrounding the chapel. In the years 1992-1993 and 1998-2005, full-scale renovation and maintenance works were carried out in the chapel. Since 2005, the chapel, being a filial unit of the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has been used by Societas Silesiana Pro Missa Tridentina.

Description

The chapel, which used to be referred to as “the one behind the walls”, was situated outside the city walls (which have not survived to this day) — which was the typical location of medieval hospital complexes — to the east of the Old Town, at the present Krakowska Street.

The Baroque chapel, made of brick, is a centrally planned structure, octagonal in shape, with a rotunda with four apses integrated inside. The high octagonal building, having a cuboidal porch on the west side, is covered with a flattened tented roof with a steeple. The walls, decorated with profiled cornices at the top, feature rows of semi-circular headed window openings and small, round and oval openings below them. The interior of the centrally-planned chapel, i.e. the nave, is covered by a sail vault decorated with an 18th-century painting depicting the Ascension of Christ and paintings which were added later, in the 1920s, portraying the Four Evangelists. The chancel is located in one of the four symmetrically arranged, shallow apses, covered by conches with lunettes. Above the apses, there is an arcaded matroneum, running around the whole chapel except for a section in the chancel, covered with the same type of vault as the lower niches and enclosed with a decorative balustrade. In the west arcade of the matroneum, there is a music gallery, communicated with the interior of the chapel by two elliptical staircases running on the sides of the west apse. Annexes in the chancel apse, containing a sacristy, are arranged in a similar way.

Among the preserved elements of the chapel interior, the most noteworthy ones are the Baroque elements, including three wall-side altars from the 1st half of the 18th century, probably ascribable to the Bytom sculpturer Jan Solski: the main altar of the Holy Spirit with a portable altar containing the relics of Saints Januarius and Severinus and the side altars: of St Joseph (in the north apse) and of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus (in the south apse). Other notable elements include the original Baroque pulpit, a sanctuary lamp from 1721, a pipe organ casing from 1875, and the remains of flooring from the late 19th century (in the chancel).

The church is open during the Mass and services (Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 9 a.m.).

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 21-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Wojtyła A., „Odgłos tryumfalny Grobu Chrystusowego” w sztuce zakonu bożogrobców w Małopolsce, na Rusi Koronnej i Śląsku w czasach nowożytnych, [w:] Między Wrocławiem a Lwowem. Sztuka na Śląsku, Małopolsce i na Rusi Koronnej w czasach nowożytnych, red. A. Betlej, K. Brzezina, Wrocław 2011, s. 215-228.
  • Paczyna A., Extra muros … kilka słów o katolickiej kaplicy Św. Ducha w Bytomiu, Bytom 2009.
  • Zabytki Sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, red. S. Brzezicki, C. Nielsen, Warszawa 2006

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1721-1732
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Krakowska , Bytom
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Bytom, commune Bytom
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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