The parish church of St Philomena (originally known as the church of St Martin), Gniechowice
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The parish church of St Philomena (originally known as the church of St Martin)

Gniechowice

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The parish church of St Philomena (originally known as the church of St Martin) is a rural ecclesiastical building erected in several stages; originally constructed back in the late 15th century, the church underwent a Baroque redesign in 1689 and was then regothicised in the second half of the 19th century.

History

The existence of a parish in Gniechowice was first noted in written sources back in 1299. The existing church was constructed towards the late 15th century. Between the beginning of the Reformation and 1653, it has served as an Evangelical church. Having suffered severe damage during a fire which swept across the village in 1642, it was subsequently rebuilt, with the surviving walls serving as the basis for the reconstruction process. The church, reclaimed by the Catholic community, functioned as a filial church of the Zachowice parish from the early 18th century; it was only in 1845 that it regained its parish church status. Having undergone a redesign in 1689, the church featured a stepped eastern gable, a vaulted ceiling in the chancel and a pair of annexes adjoining its southern façade. The roofs were clad with wood shingles. The church did not, at that point, have a tower. In 1838, the roof truss was modernised, with the original roof cladding replaced with ceramic roof tiles. A wooden steeple projecting from the roof ridge was added, as was a porch adjoining the southern side of the church.

In years 1853-54, the church underwent comprehensive restoration works in the course of which the traces of an earlier fire have come to light. The stone vaulted ceiling of the chancel was dismantled and replaced with a brick groin vault. The windows were widened and the plaster finish of the façades was restored. In 1853, the church was renamed as the church of St Philomena.

In the years 1872-73 the tower and the two adjoining annexes were erected, with the façades of the church being remodelled in the Gothic Revival style. However, these Gothic Revival were subsequently partially removed during the renovation works performed in the years 1935-36, which also encompassed alteration works on the tower. In the 1994-96, the tower and church roofs were renovated; a water draining system was constructed and the plaster finish of the façades was replaced.

Description

The church is located in the middle of the village, on a slight elevation; it is surrounded by a cemetery circumscribed with a stone wall with a pair of access gates.

The church is oriented towards the east. It is a masonry structure with plaster-covered walls. Designed on a rectangular floor plan, it features a narrower, rectangular chancel adjoined by a sacristy to the north. The nave is preceded by a quadrangular tower crowned with a slender spire and adjoined by a pair of annexes. The walls of the tower itself are reinforced with buttresses. A pair of small porches adjoin the southern façades of the nave and the chancel. The individual sections of the church are covered with gable roofs clad with ceramic tiles, with mono-pitched roofs used for the sacristy and the tower annexes. The façades of the building are topped with a cornice, with the entrance in the ground floor section of the tower being framed with a plasterwork surround. The southern porch features stone portal from the Gothic period (late 15th century), leading into the nave.

The interior follows an aisleless layout, with the chancel and the western porch (on the ground floor of the tower) featuring single-bay double barrel vaults made in years 1853-54 and 1872-73 respectively. The sacristy features a vaulted ceiling of the barrel type, with an elevated rise. The nave features a flat ceiling; a pointed rood arch separates the nave and the chancel.

The main altarpiece, baptismal font and pipe organ casing are all Baroque Revival designs, created by Fr. X. Moschner in years 1853-54); the altarpiece incorporates an image of St Philomena (J. Krachwitz, 1853) as well as an ensemble of Baroque sculptures; the side altarpieces, designed in the Baroque style, date back to the second quarter of the 18th and were renovated in years 1853-54. The pipe organ casing was modernised in 1902. The pulpit, designed in the eclectic style, is the work of Fr. X. Moschner (years 1853-54). A headstone commemorating Sabina Sturm (died 1605) is embedded in the wall of the façade of the southern porch.

The site is open to visitors.

compiled by Beata Sebzda, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wrocław, 24-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Degen K., Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler des Landkreises Breslau, Frankfurt am Main 1965, pp. 54-57.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce. Seria Nowa, vol. IV, issue 2, Województwo wrocławskie, Sobótka, Kąty Wrocławskie i okolice, J. Pokora and M. Zlat (eds.), Warsaw 1991, pp. 21-23.
  • Lutsch H., Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Schlesien, vol. II, Die Kunstdenkmäler der Landkreise des Reg.-Bezirk Breslau, Breslau 1889, p. 441.
  • Pilch J., Zabytki architektury Dolnego Śląska. Wrocław 1978, p. 64.
  • Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska. Warsaw 2005, p. 86.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, p. 285.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: koniec XV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Gniechowice
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district wrocławski, commune Kąty Wrocławskie - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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