Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Carmelite monastery, currently serving as the parish church and rectory, Kcynia
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Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Carmelite monastery, currently serving as the parish church and rectory

Kcynia

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An exceptional ecclesiastical complex with a 70-metre-long pilgrimage cloister of the type commonly seen in Bernardine monasteries, linked to the accompanying church. The complex serves as a sanctuary devoted to the miraculous crucifix and remains a regional pilgrimage destination.

History

Back in the 11th-12th century, the site of the existing monastery complex was most likely occupied by a hillfort. The town itself, founded in 1262, experienced a period of rapid growth in the 16th century. During that period, a wooden church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, consecrated by Stanisław Falęcki, the suffragan of Gniezno, stood by the local market square. In 1612, bishop Wojciech Baranowski invited the Carmelite monks to take up residence in Kcynia. The monks have taken over the local church and erected their monastery alongside it. It was the Carmelite Order who have popularised the worship of the miraculous crucifix (first half of the 16th century), which was kept at the local church; the official recognition of the cult, however, only came in 1748.

In 1775, both the town and the monastery complex were destroyed by a devastating fire. In the years 1775-1787, the existing church with its pilgrimage cloister as well as the three-wing monastery with an inner garth were erected, as was the perimeter wall surrounding the entire complex. In the early 19th century, the walls of the cloister were adorned with painted decorations which were most likely created by Antoni Smuglewicz (1740-1810).

In 1835, the Prussian authorities ordered the dissolution of the Carmelite Order, with the former monastic complex now entrusted to the local parish. The church became an auxiliary place of worship, while the former friary now served as a parish school and residences for the local clergy. Towards the end of the 19th century, the monastery has been destroyed, with the northern and western wings being completely dismantled.

In 1990, a new parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - separate from the existing parish of St Michael - was established at the former Carmelite church. The eastern wing of the monastery was adapted to serve as a rectory. From the year 2000 onwards, the complex has undergone various conservation works, allowing it to regain its former glory.

Description

The former monastery complex is located in the town centre, on a plot of land facing the market square, with the Poznańska and Jana Kantego streets serving as the boundaries thereof. The church itself is oriented towards the east. The complex was designed in the Late Baroque style, with painted decorations inside the cloisters. The three-nave hall church with galleries in its side aisles, designed on a rectangular floor plan, consists of a two-bay main body and a narrower, rectangular chancel, likewise following a two-bay layout. The northern wall of the chancel is adjoined by the eastern wing of the former monastery, designed on an elongated rectangular plan and currently serving as the rectory, positioned at a right angle towards the church. The courtyard stretching south of the church is surrounded by cloisters designed on an L-shaped plan, consisting of a six-bay eastern arm and an eight-bay southern arm, as well as by a curtain wall on the western side.

Despite being of the same height insofar as their peripheral walls are concerned, the main body and the chancel are covered with separate gable roofs; on the western side of the church rises a monumental westwork with a pair of three-storey towers crowned with bulbous cupolas with arcaded roof lanterns. The façades of the church are covered with smooth plasterwork and partitioned by paired pilasters with Corinthian capitals supporting the crowning cornice. The north façade of the church is austere in appearance, featuring no decorative flourishes whatsoever. The tripartite front façade is flanked by a pair of integrated towers, with the main entrance positioned on the middle axis; the entrance, topped with a basket-handle arch, is framed by a stepped surround adorned with faux rustication. The front façade is topped by a gable positioned between the towers, adorned with a circular clock dial with a moulded surround, above which rises a semi-circular pediment flanked by volute-shaped coping sections.

The interiors are graced by architectural decorations in the form of pilasters (which are paired inside the nave) supporting sections of entablature above. The sail vaults are supported by structural arches, with the dominant theme of the interior being the basked-handle arch, used for both the interior arcades and the supports of the vaulted ceilings. The side galleries come equipped with turned balustrades. The walls of the church are graced by sgraffito decorations and frescos, executed in the years 1962-1965 by Leonard Torwirt (1912-1967). The interior décor of the church, dating back to ca. 1787, follows a uniform style, incorporating both Baroque and Classicist themes. The miraculous crucifix (first half of the 16th century) is positioned in the middle of the main altarpiece.

The single-storey pilgrimage cloister (the so-called Calvary) is covered with gable roofs, while the slightly taller corner chapels are crowned with bulbous cupolas. The entire structure consists of fourteen bays corresponding to the successive Stations of the Cross, covered by flattened cupola ceilings resting on pendentives, with domed ceilings used for the chapels. The façades of the cloister are partitioned with a rhythmic arrangement of overlapping pilasters. The interior of the cloister is adorned by the restored wall paintings depicting the Way of the Cross, most likely created by A. Smuglewicz.

The two-storey monastery building features a simple silhouette covered with a gable roof. The façades are plain and austere; the front and the rear façades both follow a ten-axial layout, the monotony of the walls broken by a regular arrangement of windows. Despite the numerous alteration works performed inside the monastery, some of the original features have survived intact, including the vaulted ceilings of the barrel type in the cellar as well as the sail vaults and barrel vaults with lunettes at the ground-floor level.

The site is open to visitors. The rectory may only be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Bogna Derkowska-Kostkowska, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet, Kościół p.w. Wniebowzięcia NMP i klasztor O.O. Karmelitów ob. kościół parafialny i plebania, prepared by Zofia Wernerowska, Bydgoszcz 1998, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, t. XI: Dawne województwo bydgoskie, z. 14: Szubin i okolice, prepared by Maria Lewicka, Barbara Szymanowska, Warsaw 1977, pp. 11-16.
  • Raczyńska-Mąkowska Ewa, Krużgani odpustowe z Kcyni - treści ideowe i układ formalny, “Materiały do dziejów kultury i sztuki Bydgoszczy i regionu”, issue 1, Bydgoszcz 1996, pp. 81-87.
  • Szudrowicz Alojzy, Cudowny krucyfiks z Kcyni i zarys dziejów jego kultu, “Materiały do dziejów kultury i sztuki Bydgoszczy i regionu”, issue 5, Bydgoszcz 2000, pp. 144-156.
  • http://www.kcyniaklasztor.pl/

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1775-1787 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Rynek 28, Kcynia
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district nakielski, commune Kcynia - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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