Poor Clare monastery complex, Chęciny
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Poor Clare monastery complex

Chęciny

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The Poor Clare (Franciscan), and currently Bernardine sisters monastery complex is an example of local architecture built up over time that received its final shape in the 17th century. Of extraordinary value is the virtually unchanged, Baroque décor of the church's interior, maintained in a uniform style, and complemented to a small extent in the 18th century.

History

The Poor Clare (currently Bernardine sisters) monastery complex was created spontaneously out of illumination of a couple of pious third-order sisters from the 1st half of the 17th century, and at the beginning, it operated next to a male monastery. The situation changed when before 1634 the sisters received a brick and stone house in the town from a wealthy citizen Sebastian Fodyga, and in 1634, foundation of the monastery was approved by primate M. Łubieński. The next year saw a solemn ceremony at which the sisters were introduced to the monastery, and the complex itself was consecrated. The nearby hospital church, officially donated to the monastery by the town in 1673, was probably already used then. It was also on that time when, after the havoc of the Swedish deluge, at the initiative of starost of Chęciny Stefan Bidziński, the main construction of the monastery was founded — the monastery absorbed a former brick and stone tenement house, and was connected with the former hospital church and extended by a purchased orchard. The church (initially built in 1569 and preserved inside in the western part of the building in the form of a small chancel and a nave, which is square in projection) was then extended, thoroughly converted and consecrated in 1685 as St. Mary Magdalena church.   Until 1673, also the second main building of the monastery was built, housing monastic cells; in the older building, general and auxiliary rooms were located. In the 18th century, the monastery started to decay, two times there was a fire, and in the 18th century, it met its end — the last nuns left the structure in 1902. The decaying monastery buildings were taken up by the congregation of Bernardine sisters only in the 1930s.  During the World War II, part of the monastery was seized by German gendarmerie, and after the war nuns were forced to leave their buildings, where a dormitory was arranged and people accommodated (the storey was partially transformed).  The reclamation process lasted until 1990s. Currently, all buildings are used by the order of Bernardide sisters. In the last years, the monastery was extended by an eastern section, and thoroughly renovated (roofs, façades, and fencing walls included) along with the church, which did not undergo significant transformations over time.

Description

The complex is located in the south-western part of the town; it is comprised of the church, monastery buildings, and fenced area. Main buildings are arranged along Małoposka Street. In the corner of the spacious monastery estate, there is a church (of the St. Mary Magdalene) with its roof ridge parallel to the street. Its windowless façade faces west, and is available from the street through the porch, and also from the monastic garden. The external outline of the church is rectangular, with porches added from south and north, and a belfry from the south, at the south-eastern corner. In the late 18th century, the church was extended to the west with a choir gallery; the nave and chancel were vaulted; internal door openings were furnished with sandstone surrounds. The result is the present two-storey building, covered with a gable, two-section roof with a steeple. The buildings is made of split stone and partially also of brick, it features barrel and double barrel vaults with stucco decoration; the roof truss is of king post type. The Baroque décor of the church, which has survived to a significant degree, originates from the 2nd half of the 17th century. From the east, along the street, the church is adjoined by the monastery. The latter is constituted by two two-storey rectangular buildings — the central section's layout is two-and-a-half-bay, the western section is a former, converted tenement house (probably the original monastic house), and from the east, there is a new structure which presently houses the entrance. In the western section, there is a corridor, staircase, halls, kitchen, and refectory; from the refectory one may access the sacristy in the church. This section features basements and it is buttressed. In the basements and part of the ground floor there are barrel vaults, with beam ceilings above; the whole structure is covered with a gable roof. The buildings are made of stone and brick, their walls are plastered (with local architectural sandstone detail). The house for novices, once located on the south, and constituting a side wing, was demolished in the 1960s. The monastery buildings, renovated and restored together with the church not so long age, are presently in a good condition. A valuable element of the monastery fittings are two sculptures of the Virgin Mary with Child originating from the 15th century.

The historic complex is partially accessible.

Compiled by Dariusz Kalina, 20.12.2014.

Bibliography

  • Karty ewidencyjne zabytków architektury i budownictwa, „Klasztor ss. Bernardynek (d. ss. Klarysek)” i „Kościół ss. Bernardynek (d. ss. Klarysek) pw. św. Józefa”, 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, z. 4: Powiat kielecki, 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.
  • Rawita-Witanowski M., Dawny powiat chęciński. Z ilustracjami prof. Jana Olszewskiego, compiled by D. Kalina, Kielce 2001, pp. 61.
  • Kalina D., Dawny kościół i klasztor zakonu św. Klary w Chęcinach, [in:] Chęciny na starej fotografii. Szkice z dziejów miasta, Kielce 2008, pp. 27-42.
  • Palewicz M., Kościoły i kaplice Chęcin, „Nasza Przeszłość. Studia z dziejów Kościoła i Kultury Katolickiej w Polsce”, R. 57, Kraków 1982, pp. 225-226.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1644 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Małogoska 11, Chęciny
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chęciny - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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