Franciscan monastery complex, Chęciny
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Franciscan monastery complex

Chęciny

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The Franciscan monastery complex constitutes an excellent example of Franciscan architecture, adapted to the requirements imposed by order rules, and at the same time used for various purposes and restored to the original state. Construction works were carried out by local construction workshops, including the workshop of the renowned builder Kacper Fodyga.

History

The Franciscan monastery, created after 1368, was founded by the Casimir the Great. The oldest part of the complex is constituted by a Gothic church built in the 2nd half of the 14th century and reconstructed after the fire in 1465. In the late 16th century, it was temporary used by Protestants who caused considerable damages in the church. Inspection documents of 1598 contain the following description: a wooden processional cloister on a quadrilateral plan, adjoined from the west by a row of one-storey, brick and stone buildings, and a wooden dormitory on the first floor; the monastery did not feature house for novices, house of study, or infirmary. In years 1612-1620, thanks to the efforts of starost of Chęciny Stanisław Branicki, the church and monastery were converted. The nave and church's presbytery were vaulted, new roofs and western gable were made, and monastery buildings were converted; also utility buildings with an entrance gate were erected. It is suspected that local builders, stonecutters and sculptors were employed for the purposes of the works. In the north-eastern corner of the monastery, a late-Renaissance St. Leonard chapel (chapel of the Branicki family) was built. Its interior was finished in 1641. The renovated and extended structure was vandalised once again in 1656-1657, and reconstructed in the 2nd half of the 17th century by starost Stefan Bidziński. The reconstruction was commemorated on a plane plaque with the coat of arms of the starost (Janina), placed in front of the entrance to the retreat. It seems that the works focused on the monastery buildings; the western wing was converted, and other wings were extended upwards; a quadrangle of monastery buildings was created which has survived until today. In the times of the Kingdom of Poland the buildings, after the monastery was dissolved, was taken over by the State Treasury and earmarked for a prison. After some adaptations, the monastery buildings were used for prison purposes until 1928; then the monastery housed a municipal court and a school. During the World War II, the monastery was used by the German army. The complex underwent restoration in years 1946-48. After the war, it housed a stonecutter school, meat processing plant, Employment Cooperative, municipal bath and Łysogóry hotel (in 1960s and 70s, adaptation to serve as a House of Tourist with a restaurant in the church was carried out, involving removal of secondary partitions and maintenance works, but also stripping of the sacred fittings). Currently, the complex is owned by the Franciscan convent to which it was returned in 1991. Some renovation, and mainly cleaning works were carried out, necessary to restore the structure to a condition suitable for religious practices.  In 1997, the church was re-consecrated. At present, the reclaimed monastery also houses an Addiction Treatment Centre.

Description

The monastery occupies a corner plot located in the north-western part of the town. In the central section of the plot, there is the church and a quadrangle of monastery buildings adjoining it. From the north and west, the site is delimited by administration and utility buildings forming a perimeter; the entrance gate is situated on the western side, otherwise the site is fenced by a high wall. The monastery church (of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary) is oriented, made of split limestone, windows and doors are surrounded by stone decorations. The church itself is comprised of a two-bay nave and a narrower, three-bay presbytery with a polygonal ending section. The church features double barrel vaults with overlaid decorative ribs; gable roofs (over the presbytery, the roof was later lowered). In 1947, fragments of wall painting on the rood wall originating from the mid-15th century were discovered, with a signature by the brother Angel from Sącz. The walls of monastery wings create an internal, almost square garth. Wall façades are plain, window surrounds made of sandstone; on the ground floor the walls are supported by buttresses. External façades are plastered (until the end of the 20th century there were bare stone); roofs are low, of gable type. In the south-eastern corner of the complex, there is the St. Leonard chapel, called Branicki chapel. It is oriented, built on a square plan, with an apse from the east, covered with a cupola ceiling. Interior of the apse is opened inner-ward through a rood arch. On the pendetives, there are late-Renaissance stucco cartouches with coats of arms. At the northern wall, there are elongated, one-bay stone buildings — the former guest house and the former prison hospital. Façades of the buildings are style-less and topped with a plain cornice. By the western wall, there is a two-storey gate building with a passageway opening to the courtyard through wide semi-circular arcades. The monastery complex is currently used in line with its purpose. Elements reminiscent of past times are still there, but the yard is well maintained, and the structures are successively renovated.

The historic building is partly accessible.

Compiled by Dariusz Kalina, 15.12.2014.

Bibliography   

  • Karty ewidencyjna architektury i budownictwa,: „d. Klasztor oo. Franciszkanów”, „Kaplica św. Leonarda”, „Kościół franciszkanów pw. Wniebowzięcia NMP, „Zabudowania gospodarcze klasztoru oo. franciszkanów pw. Wniebowzięcia NMP”, compiled by S. Parafianowicz 1983, mps, archiwum Wojewódzkiego Urzędu Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach i Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. III: Województwo kieleckie, fasc. 4: Powiat kielecki, oprac. zbiorowe, Warszawa 1959.
  • Barbasiewicz M, Kubiak J., Chęciny Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne, Warszawa 1981, archiwum WKZ w Kielcach.
  • Hałambiec M. J., Franciszkański klasztor w Chęcinach (Historia od fundacji -1368, poprzez zabór -1817, do odzyskania 1991), Chęciny 2003.
  • Kalina D., Dzieje Chęcin, Chęciny 2007.
  • Kalina D., Klasztor franciszkanów, [in:] Chęciny na starej fotografii. Szkice z dziejów miasta, Kielce 2008, s. 199-212.
  • Palewicz M., Kościoły i kaplice Chęcin, „Nasza Przeszłość. Studia z dziejów Kościoła i Kultury Katolickiej w Polsce”, R. 57, Kraków 1982, pp. 225-226.
  • Rawita-Witanowski R., Dawny powiat chęciński. Z ilustracjami prof. Jana Olszewskiego, compiled by D. Kalina, Kielce 2001.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: po 1368 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Franciszkańska 10, Chęciny
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chęciny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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