The parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist, Grzawa
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The parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist

Grzawa

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The parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist remains a valuable example of wooden ecclesiastical architecture in the Silesian province. What makes this particular church unique is that it continues to stand on its original, wooden foundations.

History

The church was most likely erected in the early 16th century. In the years 1580-1628, it remained under the control of the Protestant community. It was only in 1651 that it was reclaimed by the Catholics, becoming a filial church of the parish in Miedźna. In 1690, the church was redesigned. According to the report prepared in the course of an inspection visit in 1792, “the walls of the church are adorned with old-fashioned paintings and floral decorations”. The restoration of the Baroque main altarpiece took place in 1870 and was conducted by Karol Stankiewicz, a painter from Kęty. In 1883, the brothers Józef and Stanisław Bernadzikiewicz, hailing from Cracow, executed new painted decorations of the interior. These vibrant wall paintings incorporated both figural and ornamental motifs. In the early 20th century, a steeple was erected, jutting from the roof ridge above the nave. In 1967, a separate priest was assigned to the village of Grzawa. On November 12, 2000, an independent parish was formed.

Description

The church is situated on a small hill in the middle of the village of Grzawa, east of Pszczyna, on the main village street. The structure is surrounded by the parish cemetery, with the entire churchyard being circumscribed by a wooden fence made up of two distinct sections, one of which consists of wooden beams with dovetail joints. The entire fence is topped with a rooflet clad with wood shingles, with a pair of masonry gateways with plaster-covered walls facilitating access to the churchyard. The church itself is made of wooden logs, with the exception of the square tower at its western end, which is a post-and-beam structure. The church, oriented towards the east, is a single-nave structure with a rectangular chancel adjoined by the chancel positioned on the northern side thereof. The tower, nave and chancel are markedly different in terms of height. The nave, designed on a roughly square plan, is wider than the chancel. The entire church - with the exception of the northern side of the sacristy - is surrounded by an open, cloister-like walkway known traditionally as the soboty, supported by sturdy wooden posts with diagonal braces; the part of the walkway surrounding the tower is an enclosed structure, its sides clad with weatherboards. The walls above the cloister-like walkway are likewise clad with weatherboards. The nave and the chancel are covered with a gable roof. The roof of the chancel is extended sideways to accommodate the sacristy. The cloister-like walkway is protected against the elements by a skirt roof, with similar roofs also present above the church entrances. The tower is topped with a four-sided pyramid hipped roof crowned with an octagonal, openwork lantern and a Baroque cupola. The design of the steeple above the nave mirrors that of the tower cupola. The main entrance is located on the western side of the church, in its front façade. The single leaf wooden door features a rectangular overlight and is protected by a small, gable rooflet. A side entrance can be seen on the southern side of the church. The windows of the southern part of the nave and the chancel are topped with segmental arches. The eastern part of the church (the chancel) and the sacristy feature rectangular windows, while the windows of the northern wall of the nave are of the segment-headed type.

The chancel and the nave are separated by a chancel arch wall with a blunt rood arch. The organ gallery supported by two pairs of wooden posts and featuring a 17th-century pipe organ occupies the western part of the nave. The ceilings above the nave and the chancel are of a flat, coved type, while the sacristy features a wooden ceiling made of beams and planks. The ground-floor level of the tower likewise features a flat, wooden ceiling, albeit with no exposed beams in sight. The interior is designed in the Baroque style. Most of the interior fixtures and fittings date back to the 17th and 18th century, including the main altarpiece with side doors (fourth quarter of the 17th century), incorporating the paintings of Our Lady of the Snow (1690), John the Baptist (19th century) and the Coronation of the Virgin Mary (top section of the altarpiece, late 17th century). The altarpiece is flanked by the statues of St Paul and St Peter. The side altarpieces are likewise designed in the Baroque style and date back to the 17th century. The entire interior is adorned with painted decorations focusing on various foliate and geometric motifs surrounding the figural representations of various Saints and Apostles. The Stations of the Cross adorning the walls of the church, dating back to 1841, bear the signature of Eliasz Lipek.

The building is open to visitors before and after church service: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays - 5:30 PM, Tuesdays - 8:00 AM, Sundays - 8:00 AM, 10:15 AM.

compiled by Sabina Rotowska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 21-11-2015.

Bibliography

  • Cenda B., Kościoły, kaplice i dzwonnice drewniane: województwo śląskie. Przewodnik, Cracow 2015, pp. 128-131.
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture and urban design [Parish church of the Martyrdom of St John the Baptist, Grzawa], compiled by Irena Kontna, Ewa Caban, 1996, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland
  • Orlik Z., Nasze strony. Szkice z dziejów Miedźnej, Woli, Góry, Frydka, Grzawy, Bydgoszcz 1996.
  • Płazak I., Pszczyna. Zabytki miasta i regionu. Przewodnik po muzeum. Pszczyna 1974.
  • Spyra A., Związane na jaskółczy ogon. Drewniane kościoły na Ziemi Pszczyńskiej, Pszczyna 1996.
  • Szlakiem drewnianych kościołów Archidiecezji Katowickiej, M. Gontarz, L. Makówka (eds.), Katowice 2010.
  • Spyra A., Budownictwo drewniane na ziemi pszczyńskiej, Pszczyna 1982.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Brzezicki S., Nielsen Ch. (eds.), Warsaw 2006, p. 320.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: pocz. XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna 1, Grzawa
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district pszczyński, commune Miedźna
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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