The monastic tserkva of the Basilian monks, subsequently functioning as a church of the Dominican Order and currently serving as the parish church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Krasnybór
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The monastic tserkva of the Basilian monks, subsequently functioning as a church of the Dominican Order and currently serving as the parish church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Krasnybór

photo

The church in Krasnybór was originally erected in the early 17th century as a monastic tserkva of the Basilian monks; today, the building forms an example of a picturesque symbiosis of Russian-Byzantine and Gothic influences as well as certain features typical of fortified architecture - a mixture which reflects the turbulent and complex history of the Polish-Ruthenian borderlands. The church also served as the mausoleum of the Chreptowicz noble family, known for colonising extensive areas of the nearby forests as well as for making generous donations to both the Catholic and Orthodox parishes.

History

The tserkva was erected at the request of Adam Chreptowicz (1557-1632), the chamberlain (podkomorzy) of Nowogródek who also served as a deputy of the local assemblies and tribunals on numerous occasions. The church itself was erected somewhere around the year 1617 and was designed for the newly formed Basilian monastery; however, the Basilian monks have only stayed in this location until the year 1627. Between 1684 and 1821, the building served as a monastic church of the Dominican Order. Later on, the administration of the church was taken over by the Roman Catholic parish in Krasnybór, with the church itself serving as the main parish church until 1870. When a new parish church was completed, the old monastic church was relegated to the status of a chapel.

Description

Standing at the top of a hill, the church instantly defines the landscape of the surrounding village. Its dimensions are 21 x 15 metres, while the total interior volume is 3000 m3, making it remarkably small compared to its 30-metre-tall tower. The church is an interesting example of a structure designed on a central, Greek cross-shaped plan, featuring a trio of apses with an outline following the shape of a basket-handle arch. The church features pointed-arch windows and ribbed vaults. The building is oriented towards the east; it is a brick structure designed on a trefoil-shaped plan, its tower topped with a pyramid-shaped spire; the chancel is flanked by a pair of low sacristies. The design of the church in Krasnybór features a fascinating mixture of various architectural styles prevalent in the territories located alongside the Polish-Lithuanian border during the late 16th and early 17th century. Its trefoil plan is a clear reference to Byzantine architecture, pointing towards the links of its benefactors with the Orthodox Christian culture - before accepting the Uniate confession, Adam Chreptowicz had been a follower of the Orthodox Church, much like most of the Lithuanian noblemen in his times. The pointed-arch window openings and blind windows as well as the ribbed vaults that grace the interior are reminiscent of the Gothic style, which had lingered in these territories for remarkably long. Much like many other churches from this period, the church in Krasnybór is characterised by the presence of a monumental tower, designed on a quadrangular floor plan and featuring an octagonal upper section. The ribs of the vaulted ceilings inside the church flow onto small plaques adorned with the motif of a winged angel head - a clear nod towards the architecture of the Northern Renaissance, a style which all the architects of ecclesiastical buildings erected in the Grodno region in the early 17th century seemed eager to embrace, albeit in a rather parochial form. The side façades of the church incorporate arched niches - a trace of monastic cells which had existed there even in the early 19th century; beneath the church lies an empty crypt which had once served as the final resting place of several generations of the Chreptowicz noble family. The main altarpiece incorporates a crowned image of the Virgin Mary of Krasnybór, believed to possess miraculous qualities. The painting itself dates back to the first half of the 17th century (ca. 1625).

The structure is open to visitors all year round. The interiors may be explored on weekdays by arrangement with the parish priest.

compield by Grzegorz Ryżewski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 27-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kułak A., Świątynie i sanktuaria, [in:] Z biegiem Biebrzy. Przewodnik historyczno - etnograficzny, A. Gaweł, G. Ryżewski (eds.), Białystok-Suchowola 2012, pp. 163-164.
  • Ryżewski G., Sztabin. Dzieje gminy Sztabin od czasów najdawniejszych do współczesności, Białystok-Sztabin 2002, pp. 91-94.

General information

  • Type: tserkva
  • Chronology: 1617 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Krasnybór
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district augustowski, commune Sztabin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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