The St Adalbert parish church complex, Gdańsk
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The St Adalbert parish church complex

Gdańsk

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The church, along with the chapel on the hill, form the sanctuary of St Adalbert, a site of great religious importance in the Pomerania region. According to legends which still circulate among the local residents, this site was where St Adalbert remained active as a missionary and where he was originally buried. Until the 16th century, the church - along with the monastery which has subsequently been demolished - formed an important Benedictine centre; in years 1711-1818 , it became the centre of the activities of the Congregation of the Mission. The church incorporates elements of both Gothic and Baroque ecclesiastical architecture; the rectory is a Baroque residential building featuring immensely valuable and rare original painted decorations on the ceilings. The Gothic chapel is an equally important, if rather less impressive, structure; the entire complex, located by the Radunia river canal in a relatively sparsely populated suburban area, remains a picturesque addition to the surrounding landscape.

History

According to legend, in 997 St Adalbert, a Czech missionary and bishop, preached to the inhabitants of the local area on the hill where the church now stands, Following his martyrdom he was interred on the same site, although in year 1000 his body was relocated to Gniezno.

The Benedictine monks arrived at the settlement in the 12th century, building a monastery for themselves - a filial monastery of the earlier monastery in Mogilno. A village sprang up around the monastery, subsequently names Święty Wojciech (Saint Adalbert). A church was built on the site in 1236. In years 1348-1359 the church was extended, while during the second half of the 15th century a tower was added. During the 15th century a chapel was built upon the hill, where according to local traditions St Adalbert was believed to have preached and to have been buried after his death. Around the year 1500 (or, as some researchers suggest, during the Reformation period) the Benedictine monks abandoned the monastery. The former property of the order were taken over by the bishop of Włocławek, while the administration of the church was entrusted to the priests from the local diocese. In 1537 a fire inflicted serious damage on the church and the accompanying structures. The church was rebuilt in 1575; the upward extension of the tower followed in 1680. In 1710, the building was donated to the Congregation of the Mission. It was probably during that time that side chapels were added (some researchers believe that this occurred as early as the 17th century); in addition, the church received new interior fittings. It is also the missionaries who were responsible for the construction of the religious house, even though some authors state 1667 as the date of its construction. In 1818, following the dissolution of monasteries by the Prussian authorities, the parish came under the control of the diocese once again. The former religious house would now serve as a rectory. In 1855 a comprehensive restoration of the church was performed, while the chapel on the hill was substantially modified in 1880. During the Partitions of Poland, the devotion to St Adalbert lost its former significance. In 1928, the relics of St Adalbert were brought to the church; the chapel of the Relics of St Adalbert was constructed alongside the church in order to provide an adequate place of storage. From that moment onwards, the church became an important pilgrimage destination once again. Today, it houses the Diocese Sanctuary of St Adalbert. In 1966, a path for pilgrims - the Calvary of St Adalbert - was built, leading to the chapel on the hill.

Description

The complex consists of the church of St Adalbert, the rectory and the chapel on the hill; it is located in the former village of Święty Wojciech, subsequently incorporated into the city of Gdańsk as a district carrying the same name. The church and the rectory are located on a plot of land between the former village road (known today as Trakt Świętego Wojciecha - the Path of St Adalbert) and the Radunia river canal. The church is oriented towards the east, with the chancel facing the road and the tower facing the canal. The rectory and a garden are located south of the church; a forested hill of St Adalbert stands on the western side of the canal. The chapel is located in a meadow atop the hill. Individual stations of the Calvary are placed alongside the path leading from the church towards the chapel, with the chapel itself forming the final station.

The church is a brick building with plastered walls. Its distinguishing features are its complex floor plan and its shape, consisting of the large main section and the surrounding smaller ones. The main body of the church was built on a Latin cross plan consisting of a rectangular nave and two side chapels which are most likely a 18th-century addition, their floor plans approximating the shape of a square. A three-sided chancel and a tower adjoin the nave from the east and west respectively. The sacristy is positioned in the corner between the northern chapel and the chancel, while the small chapel of the Relic of St Adalbert (built in 1930) occupies the corner between the same chapel and the nave. A small porch was subsequently added to the eastern facade of the southern chapel. The nave is covered with a gable roof. The chancel, narrower and lower than the nave, features a roof consisting of five sections. The side chapels adjoining the nave feature three-sided roofs; both chapels are lower then both the nave and the chancel. The sacristy and the chapel of the Relic of St Adalbert feature shed roofs, while the porch has a three-sided roof. The tower was built on a square floor plan and features two distinct sections. The lower section, incorporating the ground floor, is stout in appearance. The upper section is markedly narrower than the lower one and features a tented roof surmounted by an octagonal steeple with a bulbous cupola. Pent roofs separate the lower and upper section of the tower.

The facades of the nave, the chancel and the tower feature buttresses and pointed-arch windows. The chapel, sacristy and the upper section of the tower feature windows with semi-circular arches. The entrance to the church, framed by a stepped portal, is positioned in the western facade of the tower. The second, side entrance can be found in the eastern facade of the porch. The southern and northern facades are adorned with a frieze running beneath the eaves, consisting of two rows of bricks and the field between them, which was originally covered with various inscriptions. Remnants of those inscriptions were discovered in the spots where the chapels were added, although these have subsequently been covered up with plaster. The chapels are circumscribed with a profiled cornice running underneath the eaves.

The interior features a rood arch separating the chancel from the nave. The chapels open towards the nave through semi-circular arches. The nave features a wooden beamed ceiling from 1856, with decorative carved braces connecting the ceiling and the walls. The chapels and the sacristy feature groin vaults.

Most of the interior fittings were designed in the Baroque style and originate from the 18th century. One of the exceptions is the Gothic altar from circa 1500 (researchers disagree as to whether the present structure is the entire altar or merely a part of the original one), which was saved from the fire which gutted the church in 1537; today, the altar stands alongside the side wall of the chancel. Notable fittings include the main altar from the first half of the 18th century, incorporating the painting of St Adalbert from 1694, two 18th-century side altars, the pipe organ casing dating back to 1743, the pulpit, the baptismal font and confessionals from the 18th century, 17th-century choir stalls and headstones from the 16th century. The chapel of the Relics of St Adalbert contains a sculpture of the saint, dating back to the first half of the 18th century.

The rectory is a brick building, its walls covered with plaster. Built on a rectangular floor plan, it features a two-bay layout with an avant-corps and adjoining annex in the rear section of the building. The rectory is a two-storey structure. The main body of the building is covered with a hip roof; the avant-corps features a three-sided roof while the annex is covered with a gable roof. The facades feature rectangular window openings and austere architectural detailing in the form of pilasters adorning the corner of the buildings and a profiled cornice beneath the eaves. The front facade is slightly more ornate. The centre axis of the facade is accentuated with a pair of pilasters. The main entrance into the buildings is positioned between the pilasters; a cornice resting on corbels and a palmette decoration with foliate scrollwork are positioned above the entrance. Inside, the building features barrel vaults above the staircase, with groin vaults used for the landings. The vestibule, refectory and hall on the first floor feature surviving Baroque wooden beamed ceilings with painted decorations incorporating foliage motifs (including depictions of flowers and fruits) as well as putti heads.

The chapel on the hill stands on a plinth made of field stones. The walls of the ground floor section are made of brick (Gothic bond) interspersed with stones. The gables were added in the 19th century and feature a post-and-beam structure. The building was erected on a rectangular floor plan; it is a single-storey structure with a gable roof and a wooden steeple. The front facade features two doorways separated by a blind window, all of them topped with segmental arches. The side facades feature two pointed-arch windows each. The interior features a flat ceiling. The paintings adorning the interior walls were executed in 1953.

Limited access to the historic building - the church and chapel may be visited during and after church service.

Compiled by Beata Dygulska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Gdańsk, 27.08.2014 r.

Bibliography

  • Januszajtis A., Od Gyddanyze do Wielkiego Gdańska, [w:] Wielka Księga Miasta Gdańska, Gdańsk 1997, s. 131.
  • Kościelak S., Kościół św. Wojciecha, [w:] Śliwiński B. (red. nauk.), Encyklopedia Gdańska, Gdańsk 2012, s. 525-526.
  • Wiktorska A., Sanktuarium św. Wojciecha w Gdańsku Świętym Wojciechu, Gdańsk 1997.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Trakt św. Wojciecha 440, Gdańsk
  • Location: Voivodeship pomorskie, district Gdańsk, commune Gdańsk
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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