Jawor – the Augsburg Evangelical church of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Church of Peace, Jawor
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Jawor – the Augsburg Evangelical church of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Church of Peace

Jawor

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Due to its links with a number of political and societal events of fundamental importance, the Church of Peace in Jawor remains a significant, tangible part of the historical and cultural legacy of the Silesian region and Europe alike. The church was erected as a result of the Peace of Westphalia which brought an end to the Thirty Years’ War. The treaty resulted in the practical dissolution of the structures of the Evangelical Church within the territories of Silesian hereditary duchies which remained under the direct influence of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III of Habsburg. The Evangelicals - who accounted for most of the local population - have been deprived of their religious freedom, losing nearly all of their churches in the process. It was only due to the intervention of Swedish diplomats that permission for the construction of three churches was granted in the end, although all these buildings were to be erected using the inherently perishable timber-framed construction technique; the churches were located in Głogów, Jawor and Świdnica, with the latter two surviving until the present day.

The Church of Peace in Jawor, along with the Church of Peace in Świdnica, remain the largest Baroque timber-framed ecclesiastical buildings in Europe and are rightly considered a unique and pioneering achievement due to both their size and technical complexity. The final form of the building is the result of the efforts to reconcile the extremely stringent constraints imposed under the building permit - the Churches of Peace were to be located beyond the city limits on a site designated by the imperial officials, built using nothing but timber and clay over the course of a single year and were not allowed to feature any towers whatsoever - with the expectations of the numerous local Evangelical community. The monumental structure, erected using traditional, perishable materials, bears testimony to the remarkable skills of its builders and designers.

The Church of Peace in Jawor also features surviving lavish interior decorations which remain extremely valuable both in historical and artistic terms, serving as a lasting evidence of the coexistence of Baroque art and Lutheran theology and as an illustration of the erstwhile social hierarchy.

The church has retained its original form, including the overall shape, structure and materials. All of the architectural components of the church which were added at a later date (galleries, special loges for members of selected families or guilds) as well as the interior décor and fittings remain compatible with the original form of the church, with the final result being stylistically consistent.

The inscription of the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica on the UNESCO World Heritage in 2001 (dec. CONF 208 X.A) further emphasises the value of this church.

History

The site for the construction of the new Evangelical church in Jawor - the second of the three Churches of Peace in Silesia - was demarcated on September 26, 1652, in front of the Złotoryja Gate. Shortly afterwards, a shed which also served as a temporary church was erected, while the process of collecting the necessary funds was slowly picking up the pace.

The construction itself took place in years 1654-1655, based on the design by Albrecht von Säbisch, an engineer known for designing fortifications; the task of the oversight of construction works fell upon Andreas Gamper (a.k.a. Kempner), the local master carpenter. The cornerstone was laid on April 24, 1654, while the final wood shingles were placed on the roof of the church on September 30, 1655. The first church service took place on the fourth Sunday of the Advent of 1655; it was also at that point that the church received its invocation, becoming known as the church of the Holy Spirit. Soon afterwards, works on the interiors have begun; it would take more than one hundred years, however, before the church received all of its fixtures and fittings. Somewhere around the year 1680, two additional gallery levels were constructed inside the side naves, increasing the number of available seats without the need to make any structural adjustments. In 1708, pursuant to the Treaty of Altranstädt concluded between the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I of Habsburg and King Charles XII of Sweden, a bell tower was erected. During the same year, a parish school and a new, larger rectory capable of accommodating four clergymen were also constructed.

In 1855, the 200th anniversary of the church was celebrated, coinciding with the restoration works of the entire interior thereof. It is likely that it was at that point that the stone epitaph plaques were moved from the cemetery to the interior of the church, where they have been affixed to its walls. The next anniversary, celebrated in 1906, served as the pretext to commence another series of interior refurbishment works; in addition, the lower section of the northern wall, which was showing increasing signs of rot, was reconstructed in brick.

After 1945, a small German Evangelical community continued to live in Jawor, along with an equally tiny group of Polish protestants whose pastor had to travel from Legnica for church service. An Evangelical parish was only formally established in Jawor in 1988.

Description

The church is located in the western part of town, on the foreground of the former medieval defensive walls. It was originally surrounded by a cemetery which was later converted into a municipal park known as the Park of Peace.

The Baroque church was erected as a wattle-and-daub structure set atop a brick foundation and follows a three-nave basilica layout designed on a rectangular floor plan with a semi-hexagonal termination. A sacristy which serves as a baptismal chapel abuts the church from the north, while a square bell tower topped with a bulbous spire incorporating a roof lantern adjoins the church from the south, its structure supported by means of two massive buttresses. The main nave is covered by a gable roof, with shed roofs being used for the side naves. The ground floor section of the tower incorporates a Baroque portal which serves as the main, grand entrance to the church (originally, a different entrance was used).

The interior of the main nave is surrounded by galleries from three sides; the galleries in the side naves are four-storey structures, whereas their counterparts in the western section of the church have three storeys and feature a pipe organ gallery. The original galleries - the second and the fourth one - feature solid balustrades with painted decorations; the ones on the upper level feature seventy one Old Testament scenes, whereas the ones on the lower level are adorned with seventy two scenes from the New Testament and the Book of Revelation. The balustrades of the first and third galleries, which were most likely added in 1681, incorporate woodcarved and painted decorations which were completed during the period which lasted until about 1710; the first-storey galleries feature a cycle of heraldic paintings with escutcheons set against a landscape background. The same theme is carried over to the third-storey gallery, which also features pictures of mansions of the nobility of the Świdnica and Jawor region. Other paintings on the third-storey gallery include Biblical scenes linked to the work of tailors, cloth makers and cobblers. Two loges for the nobility, each of them resting upon a single stout pillar, are located in the corners of the chancel. These loges were completed at about the same time as the aforementioned second set of galleries. The walls, ceilings and structural elements of the interior all feature white and blue painted decorations, executed in 1671. These decorations incorporate the portrayals of putti holding the Instruments of Passion (Arma Christi), angels’ heads, fruit festoons, various ornaments and plant motifs as well as stylised trunks of palm trees.

The lavish fixtures and fittings include, first and foremost, the architectural altarpiece believed to have been designed by Albrecht Säbisch (1672) with its Baroque sculptures of Moses and John the Baptist as well as an Academicist painting depicting the Prayer on the Mount of Olives (1855), the hexagonal pulpit supported by the figure of an angel, with sculptures of the Evangelists, Moses and John the Baptist adorning both the sides of the pulpit itself and the balustrade alongside the stairs thereof (created in the workshop of Mathäus Knothe, a sculptor from Legnica, in 1671), the octagonal baptismal font (funded in 1656) with a silver bowl (funded in 1694) as well as the pipe organ with Classicist casing (years 1855-1856, designed by Adolf Aleksander Lummert, an organ builder from Wrocław). Decorative Baroque heraldic cartouches and guild symbols are suspended beneath the ceiling, while a set of portraits of clergymen painted in the years 1669-1724 by Johann Siegmund Pirscher hangs in the vicinity of the altarpiece. The church also features a set of confessionals (followers of the Evangelical church in Silesia were known to have practiced auricular confession right until the early 19th century). Three of these have been funded by the residents of Kamienna Góra and executed in 1683, while the fourth was funded by the residents of Jawor and constructed in 1708. In addition, the interior also features a pastor’s bench from 1683, adorned with the depictions of the Three Theological Virtues, painted on the balustrade in 1708.

The bell tower features three bells cast in 1708 in the bell foundry of Christian Demminger in Legnica; the waists of the bells are all adorned with the symbol of the double-headed Habsburg eagle as well as couplets written in praise of Emperor Joseph I.

compiled by National Heritage Board of Poland, 2017 r.

General information

  • Type: ecclesiastical complex
  • Chronology: 1654 - 1655
  • Form of protection: Historical Monument
  • Address: Jawor
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district jaworski, commune Jawor
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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