Filial Church of the Holy Cross, Cieszyn
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Filial Church of the Holy Cross

Cieszyn

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A representative example of a small Jesuit church, characterised by a Baroque, triaxial façade design, typical of Jesuit churches and reminiscent of Roman architecture, with a native regional element in the form of a tower situated on the central axis. The castle is also highly valuable from the historical point of view, as it is related to the history of the town and the Counter-Reformation process in Cieszyn Silesia.

History

The history of the Filial Church of the Holy Cross goes back to 1670, i.e. the moment when Jesuits were invited to the town by Emperor Leopold I at the request of Catholic noblemen. The monks received a chapel and former residences of Cieszyn dukes, located in the town quarter between Rynek (the Market Square) and Szeroka Street, used by Elizabeth Lucretia, Duchess of Cieszyn, until 1653. At the beginning of the 18th century, the chapel was extended, e.g. with a part containing a sacristy, and in 1707, it was turned into the Church of the Holy Cross. Moreover, Adam Wenceslaus Paczyński of Tęczyn founded a monastery school dormitory for poor members of aristocracy. After the Jesuit monastery was closed down in 1773, the dormitory buildings started to be used as school (“gymnasium”) buildings, whereas the church was turned into a school church, supervised by Rev. Leopold Szersznik. On his initiative, in 1782, the church was covered with a vault and a tower topped with a lantern with a cupola was constructed. Following a town fire in 1789, the church was reconstructed. After the fire, the building of the former dormitory, neighbouring the church, was bought by Rev. Szersznik and adapted for use as his library and a museum. In 1794, interior elements designed by Andreas Kaspar Schweigl was made, including the main altar and probably also two side altars and a pulpit. The wooden music gallery comes from basically the same period. In 1862, the tower was modified, and in the early 19th century and in the 20th century, renovation works were carried out.

Description

The church, facing the south, was built inside the town walls, at the corner of Szersznika Street and Szeroka Street, in the immediate vicinity (to the east) of a former Jesuit boarding school for children of noblemen.

Made of brick, the Baroque church was built on a floor plan having the shape of an elongated rectangle, consisting of a three-bay nave terminating in a chancel apse on the north side and a sacristy and a small storeroom located behind the apse. The cuboidal structure of the church is covered with a gable roof, surmounted by a tower with a lantern having a cupola in the front. The front façade is divided into three axes by means of pilasters and crowned with a broken-line entablature, over which the façade passes into the tower, having a decorative curved projection adorned with volutes in the lower part. On the central axis, there is a main entrance framed by a portal crowned with a curved pediment, and a window opening with a putto head on the keystone. In the side fields, there are niches with hemispherical vaults, containing sculptures of St Ignatius of Loyola (west) and St Joseph with the Child (east); above, there are segmental cornices. The tower, framed by two-storeyed composite pilasters supporting a curved entablature, is divided by means of window openings, embellished with profiled window surrounds, and clocks. The four-pitched roof is surmounted by an octagonal lantern. The east façade is divided by means of large window openings with wide surrounds with keystones and two rows of small window openings in the sacristy and storeroom part. The interiors of the three-bay nave and the chancel are separated by means of a three-centered vault arch. The nave is covered with a sail vault on arches passing into piers having concave corners and decorated with Ionic pilasters. At the ground floor level of the tower, there is a porch, opening to the nave with three arcades headed by three-centered arches. Above, there is a wooden music gallery from the late 18th century, enclosed with a bulged balustrade and covered with a six-bay sail vault on arches resting on quadrangular piers. The short chancel in the form of an apse is covered with a conch with lunettes. On the sides of the altar, there are two portals leading to the old and the new sacristies. The preserved elements of the church interior include e.g. the Late Baroque main altar from the 18th century, consisting of a free-standing altar slab and a tabernacle framed by sculptures of angels, a Neo-Baroque side altar, and a Baroque-Neoclassical pulpit from the late 18th century.

The historical building is accessible. The church is open to visitors directly before and after Masses.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 14-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytku architektury. Pojezuicki kościół filialny pw. Św. Krzyża [w Cieszynie], opr. M. Cempla, 2001, Archiwum NID.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, T. VI, woj. katowickie, z. 3: Miasto Cieszyn i powiat cieszyński, red. I. Rejduch-Samkowa, J. Samek, Warszawa 1974, s. 16-18.
  • Spyra J., Via sacra. Kościoły i klasztory w Cieszynie i Czeskim Cieszynie, Cieszyn 2008, s. 91-100.
  • Zabytki Sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, red. S. Brzezicki, C. Nielsen, Warszawa 2006.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1707 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Szersznika 6, Cieszyn
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district cieszyński, commune Cieszyn
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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