Complex of the Parish Church of St Sigismund and a former Pauline monastery, Częstochowa
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Complex of the Parish Church of St Sigismund and a former Pauline monastery

Częstochowa

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One of the three historic Pauline monastery complexes in the city. A representative example of a Late Baroque church formed as a result of alterations to and gradual extension of the original church building from the mid-14th century. At the same time, the oldest church within the area of the historic city.

History

The Church of St Sigismund in the former Stara Częstochowa (“Old Częstochowa”), at first a filial church of the Jasna Góra Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was built in its original form in c. 1350. The conversion of the filial church into a parish church was related directly to the arrival of Pauline Fathers at Jasna Góra and handing the church over to them in 1382. When the new parish was established, probably at the beginning of the 15th century, the church was extended with a nave with a tower on the west side. Under a decree issued by Casimir IV Jagiellon in 1474, the contemporary Gothic church of St Sigismund became property of the Pauline order, who built their monastery, probably one-wing at first, next to it. The next major alterations to the complex, initiated by the contemporary provincial superior of the Pauline Fathers, Fr Andrzej Gołdonowski, were carried out in the 17th century. After 1640, chapels (the Chapel of St Anne to the north and the Chapel of St Gregory to the south) and a sacristy (to the north) were added to the church. To the south of the church, around the middle of the 17th century, new monastery buildings were constructed and communicated with the church by means of an arcaded walkway, preserved to this day. The complex underwent radical alterations in the years 1767-1771. Shortly afterwards, in the 1780s, another major series of alterations were made in connection with the fires of 1760, 1778, and 1783. During the reconstruction, the church was transformed into a three-nave basilica by the addition of two pairs of side nave bays to the chapels. The basilica terminates in a two-tower facade on the west side. In 1789, a new sacristy was erected at the south-east corner of the church. In 1864, the monastery complex was taken away from the Pauline Fathers by tsar order due to the active participation of the monks in the January Uprising. The complex was handed over to the diocese, whose administration of the parish of St Sigismund started in 1866. The monastery buildings, including the north wing, were altered a number of times in the 19th and 20th century, and thus lost their original stylistic features to a considerable extent. During World War II, the church equipment and furnishings were destroyed, including altars and organs. In the years 1959-1973, full-scale renovations of the church were carried out, including the replacement of the internal and external plaster, the replacement of the roof and the floors, the restoration of the altars, and the transformation of the south porch into the Chapel of Eucharistic Adoration.

Description

The complex is situated in the Old Town of Częstochowa, nearby the south-west corner of the market square, at the intersection of the present Mirowska Street and Krakowska Street, facing the exit of Blessed Virgin Mary Alley and the Jasna Góra monastery. The complex comprises the oriented church, situated in the north part and communicated on the south side with the three-wing building of the former monastery by means of a roofed porch supported by two arcades.

The stone is made of stone and brick, constructed on a quadrilateral, nearly square plan, with a narrow, rectangular chancel to the east and a rectangular tower annex to the west. The fairly compact church building consists of a three-nave, two-bay, basilica-type nave part covered with separate gable roofs, a two-bay chancel, slightly lower than the main nave, with a small sacristy annex covered with a mono-pitched roof to the south, and the dominant tower part on the west side, crowned with two dome-like roofs with lanterns. At the junction with the chancel, the roof of the main nave is crowned with a decorative, Baroque steeple, having a double roof topped with a lantern with a cupola.

Particular façades of the church are characterised by subtle, Late Baroque architectural details, mainly on the west and north sides. The two-tower, five-axis front facade with distinctive socle and crowning levels is decorated with symmetrically arranged pseudo-pilasters supporting a simplified broken entablature. The part of the facade above the entablature consists of a triangular pediment on the axis of the building, framed by two pilasters and volutes and, further to the sides, by the tops of the towers, two-storeyed and decorated with pilasters and a profiled crowning cornice. On the axis of the facade, there is a Neo-Baroque portal framed by pilasters supporting an entablature and a triangular pediment with a decorative cartouche with an SZ (St Sigismund) monogram. The facades of the side naves feature subtle lesene-frame decoration on the south and north sides, and the gables on the east and west sides, consisting of several levels and framed by volutes, feature double pseudo-pilasters and entablatures. The north façade of the chancel is supported by buttresses.

The interior of the church consists of a three-nave, basilica-type nave part, connected with the tower bay on the west side, and of a slightly narrower and lower chancel. The interior of the two-bay chancel is covered with a double barrel vault. The chancel and the nave are separated by a semi-circular rood arch. The interior of the three-bay main nave is covered with a barrel vault with lunettes resting on arches. Pairs of round-arch arcades supported by low pillars, decorated with Tuscan pilasters supporting sections of an entablature on the nave side, lead from the main nave to the side naves. In the west part of the nave, there is a wooden music choir resting on an arcade supported by engaged columns. The particular bays of the side naves, separated by arcades, are covered by double barrel vaults.

The preserved equipment and furnishings of the church include the Neo-Baroque, four-column main altar from 1874 with sculptures of St Peter and St Paul and of St Barbara and St Catherine at the top and an 18th century crucifix in the central part, as well as two one-storeyed, Late Baroque side altars from 1787 by the chancel arch wall and two altars by the east wall of both side naves — the south one from 1787 and the north one from the 19th century.

The former monastery, currently the rectory building, is made of stone and brick and consists of two rectangular wings on the west and south sides, a rectangular annex on the north side, extended in the recent times, and a low wall closing the garth on the east side. Both original wings of the monastery are two-storeyed structures covered with high gable roofs, whereas the two-storeyed north wing is covered with a mono-pitched roof. The present appearance of the building façades is the effect of repair and restoration works carried out in the recent years. The multi-axial west and south façades are decorated with a restored band of a decorative frieze at the top and restored stone window casings, reminiscent of the early modern character of the wing. In the upper part of the wing, on the west and north sides, the oldest, medieval parts of the stone wall, together with extant window surrounds of sandstone, were revealed from under the plaster and exposed. In both wings, rooms are covered with groin vaults and corridors are covered with double barrel vaults. On the axis of the west wing, there is a staircase with a barrel vault.

The roofed porch adjoining the west wing on the north side, originally providing communication between the monastery and the church, is a two-storeyed structure covered with a gable roof, with arcades on the ground floor supporting a storey containing a narrow corridor.

The church is open to visitors.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 07-09-2015.

Bibliography

  • Karta ewidencyjna zabytku architektury. Kościół parafialny p.w. św. Zygmunta [w Częstochowie], opr. J. Perczak, 1997, Archiwum NID.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki, T. VI, Miasto Częstochowa, cz. 1: Stare i Nowe Miasto, Częstochówka i Przedmieścia, red. Z. Rozanow, E. Smulikowska, Warszawa 1995, s. 34-46.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: ok. 1350 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Krakowska 1, Częstochowa
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Częstochowa, commune Częstochowa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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