The former Jesuit complex consisting of the church of St Francis Xavier, Krasnystaw
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The former Jesuit complex consisting of the church of St Francis Xavier

Krasnystaw

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A Jesuit college established a century after its counterpart in Lublin, located in the erstwhile Chełm diocese. The church constitutes a leading example of fully mature Baroque architecture in the Lublin region, being one of the most monumental of all preserved ecclesiastical buildings of the Baroque period in the area and featuring surviving painted interior decorations by Adam Swach as well as original fixtures and fittings (a complex of altarpieces from the 18th century), complemented by high-quality period sculptural décor. Its historical value is further boosted by the fact that during the late 18th/early 19th century the church performed the role of the cathedral in the Chełm diocese, leading to the construction of the accompanying complex of buildings which survive to this day.

History

The Baroque complex of the Jesuit college was erected in the vicinity of the now-vanished parish church which had later served as the cathedral; the construction took place during the period between 1697-1704 and 1708-1715, with the interruption being caused by the intervening war. The design for the church was created by Jan Delamars, a Jesuit architect. In years 1721-1723, the interiors received painted decorations by Adam Swach, a Franciscan painter, as well as the sculptural detailing surrounding the altarpieces, attributed to Dawid Hell, a Jesuit sculptor. In years 1730-1741, a new front façade featuring a pair of towers was added to the existing main body of the church. Following the dissolution of the Jesuit monastery, the church fulfilled the function of the cathedral of the Chełm diocese in years 1773-1807. Following the collapse of the cupola ceiling above the transept, the church underwent a series of renovation works in years 1849-1850; ground-up restoration followed in years 1879-1881, conducted under the direction of Bolesław Budyński, construction site manager and resulting in the middle bay receiving a new, lowered cupola supported by pendentives. It was also at that time that pairs of massive buttresses were added to the corners of the transept.

The construction of the brick college buildings commenced in 1708, after the older, mostly wooden buildings from 1697 were lost to the blaze. The works took place until 1717, with some interruptions; in 1721, the Jesuit order began the construction of the western wing on the site of the now-defunct town perimeter walls and added another storey to the remaining sections of the building. The entire process lasted until 1730. Following the dissolution of the monastery, the buildings served as a seminary and a residential complex for priests, while from 1811 onwards they remained under military control. Finally, in the 1970s, the buildings were adapted to serve as a regional museum. A series of thorough renovation works was carried out in stages between years 1995-98 (the western wing, serving as the museum) and 2006-2008 (the eastern and southern wing); as a result, the roofs of the buildings were raised, with the new, clerestory roof allowing for the attic to be adapted for new purposes.

The bishop’s palace was erected in the second half of the 18th century as a Jesuit edifice, extending as a separate structure from the north-western wing of the college. The building served as the house of the bishop of Chełm (earning it the name of the bishop’s palace) for a brief period in years 1780-1807. In 1958, the palace was converted to serve as a monastic building;

The seminary building, established back in 1719, was only completed in 1739, having undergone two series of alteration works during the 19th and 20th century, with its interior layout having been preserved in its original form.

The vicarage, erected in the first half of the 18th century, was modified following the damage sustained in 1914.

Description

The complex is located at the edge of the Old Town district, near the gate, at the edge of the hill upon which the town rises, on the north-western side of the Wieprz river valley, to the south-west of the Market Square; the buildings stand by the street which leads out of the town, towards Cracow (currently known as the Marszałka J. Piłsudskiego street). The church is not oriented, its front façade facing the east, its body serving as the northern boundary of the inner courtyard of the former college edifice, consisting of three wings in total, with the bishop’s palace being positioned at the end of the western wing. The free-standing buildings of the former seminary and vicarage are separated from the rest by the courtyard in front of the church.

The church was designed in the Baroque style; it is a brick edifice erected on a Latin cross floor plan, with a three-bay nave and two rows of chapel bays. The transept is incorporated into the rectangular outline of the main body, originally having featured a tall dome perched atop a tholobate positioned above the intersection, which was subsequently replaced by a flattened cupola ceiling concealed within the gable roof above. The nave features barrel vaults with lunettes, with sail vaults being used for the chapel bays. The transept bays feature barrel vaults divided by an even number of arches supported by paired Doric pilasters with fluted shafts. The chancel is designed on a floor plan shaped as three-quarters of a circle and features a conch-shaped half-dome with lunettes, framed by a pair of two-storey annexes serving as sacristies, which were added at a later date. The front façade features a pair of towers and follows a three-axial layout, its three storeys being accentuated by Doric pilasters. The cupolas above the towers are surmounted by massive tin statues of Jesuit saints - Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier. Inside, the church features an almost perfectly preserved set of painted decorations dating back to the 1720s, complemented by an ensemble of Late Baroque architectural altarpieces with sculptural décor as well as set of Late Baroque black marble portals, including the main entrance portal.

The former Jesuit college building consists of three wings; it is a two-storey, single-bay building with a basement, with a corridor running alongside the courtyard side of the structure. The eastern part of the courtyard is closed off by the wall of the adjoining church. The eastern wing is framed by a pair of avant-corps;

The bishop’s palace is a two-storey, two-bay, tripartite structure with a central vestibule leading across the entire building and opening towards the small inner courtyard at the extension of the southern wing of the Jesuit college edifice. The façade of the palace follows a three-axial layout and is accentuated by paired Doric pilasters in giant order;

The former seminary building is a three-bay structure consisting of five distinct sections, its interior following a cross layout with a corridor. The front façade follows a seven-axis layout and is accentuated by Doric pilasters in giant order at the corners; the north façade is also accentuated by surviving paired pilasters, whereas the remaining façades are devoid of any such decorations;

The former vicarage is a single-storey building with a tall basement in the rear; a three-bay edifice, it is divided into five sections and features two symmetrical vestibules running across the structure in its even-numbered bays as well as a staircase. The building is covered with a hip roof.

The church can be accessed all day; the part of the former college which serves as a museum may be visited during opening hours, while the remaining structures may be admired from the outside only.

compiled by Roman Zwierzchowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 10-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Krasnystaw. Dawne kolegium oo. Jezuitów, oprac. J. Wzorek, dokum. nauk.-hist., PP PKZ O/Lublin 1977, Archive of the Regional Office of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Vol. VIII, Województwo Lubelskie, R. Brykowski and E. Smulikowska (eds.), issue 8: Powiat krasnostawski, Warsaw 1960
  • Rudnik S., Kolegium pojezuickie w Krasnymstawie - historia budowy, badań i prac remontowych, [in:] “Wiadomości Konserwatorskie województwa lubelskiego”, 10 (2008)
  • Rusińska-Kurzątkowska A., Kościół pojezuicki w Krasnymstawie, “Roczniki Humanistyczne”, R. 6 (1956-1957), issue 4, pp. 111-118

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1697-1715
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Krasnystaw
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district krasnostawski, commune Krasnystaw (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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