Filial Church of St Michael the Archangel, Księży Las
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Filial Church of St Michael the Archangel

Księży Las

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The church of St Michael the Archangel presents a substantial historical and research value, being one of the oldest wooden churches in Upper Silesia. In addition, it also represents a quintessentially medieval layout, consisting of two sections designed on a roughly square plan, while the arrangement of the tie beams, corresponding to the width of both the nave and the chancel, is a typical feature of the wooden regional architecture of the Upper Silesian region.

History

The first written mentions of the village of Księży Las date back to the year 1302, when the pope entrusted the village to the Cistercian monks from Jemielnica. According to the available source information from the year 1447, the first church to be erected here came into being in the 14th century and enjoyed the status of a parish church. The construction of the current church of St Michael the Archangel began in the years 1497-1498, with the funds being provided by Jan Sławecki. The first available information on the church were included in the report from the inspection visit conducted in 1687 and refer expressly to the construction of the church in the year 1499, thus making it one of the oldest surviving ecclesiastical buildings in all of Upper Silesia. In the years 1570-1629, the church remained under the control of the local Protestant community. Throughout the years, its silhouette underwent numerous changes, with the southern chapel adjoining the nave being added in the 18th century. In 1905, a brick porch was added to the front façade. The church underwent renovation works on numerous occasions, with the roof structure and the chapel being restored in 1687 and 1884 respectively. Unfortunately, the church received severe damage during World War II. In 1955, the church underwent a comprehensive restoration, with both the steeple and the roof cladding being replaced five years later. The most recent conservation works took place in the years 1999-2001. According to the report from an inspection visit carried out in 1720, the church was accompanied by a free-standing bell tower; later on, the bells were moved to a separate, brick annex.

Description

The church of St Michael the Archangel is situated on a small hill in the southern part of the village. It is surrounded by a cemetery. The entire churchyard is circumscribed with a wire fence. The church itself stands in the shade of a number of old trees.

The single-nave church, oriented towards the east, was designed as a wooden log structure, positioned on brick and stone foundations. Its layout is quintessentially medieval, consisting of two distinct sections designed on a square floor plan, with the slender shape of its silhouette - including the roof - being characteristic for the Gothic period. The church consists of two main sections - the wooden nave, designed on a rectangular floor plan, and the slightly narrower chancel. The nave is adjoined by a brick front porch and a chapel abutting on the nave’s southern side and featuring a semi-hexagonal end section, while the northern side of the chancel is adjoined by the sacristy, designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan. An additional feature which breaks the monotony of the silhouette of the church is the cloister-like walkway running along the northern façade, supported by a row of eight wooden posts. The main body of the church is topped with a hip roof, the pitch of the roof being different above the nave and the chancel. A quadrangular steeple crowned with a bulbous cupola jutting from the middle of the roof ridge above the nave provides the finishing touch. The brick annex is covered with a three-sided roof, while the 18th-century chapel is covered with a five-sided roof crowned with a small cupola. The walkway adjoining the northern wall of the church is covered with a mono-pitched roof. The interior can be accessed through two entrances - the main entrance at the ground-floor level of the western façade, topped with a segmental arch, and an additional entrance in the sacristy, forming part of the eastern façade thereof. The three-axial front (western) façade is different from the rest in that it is a brick structure reinforced with corner buttresses. The remaining façades are clad with wood shingles and pierced with rectangular window openings; additional features which define the appearance of the church are the southern chapel with its semi-hexagonal end sections as well as the cloister-like walkway on the northern side of the nave. Inside, the church features flat ceilings with modern plasterboard cladding, adorned with simple, painted decorations. Only the crypt differs in this regard, its interior featuring a vaulted ceiling of the barrel type. The chancel is separated from the nave by a rood beam with an inscription that reads, “Consummatum est’’. The organ gallery is positioned in the eastern part of the nave, opening towards the rest of the interior with three arcaded openings. Very little of the original fixtures and fittings has survived inside the church, with the Baroque Revival main altarpiece from the first half of the 19th century deserving a special mention. The altarpiece incorporates the painting of St Michael the Archangel in its centre. The side altarpieces are designed in the Late Baroque style. The altarpiece on the right incorporates the painting of St Catherine of Alexandria, while the on the left is adorned with a painted Crucifixion scene framed with sumptuous decorations based on the acanthus motif.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 22-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture and urban design [Filial church of St Michael the Archangel, compiled by A. and A. Kwiecień (1996), Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture and urban design (the so-called green record sheet) [Filial church of St Michael (1959)], Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice
  • Kreis A., Z drewna ciosane. Drewniana architektura sakralna w województwie śląskim, Chorzów 2004
  • Matuszczak J., Studia nad kościołami drewnianymi na Górnym Śląsku, Bytom 1989
  • Pilch J., Leksykon zabytków architektury Dolnego Śląska, Warsaw 2008, p. 309
  • Ruszczyk G., Kościoły na Śląsku z XV i początku XVI wieku: (Bojszów, Gliwice, Księży Las, Łaziska, Łącza, Ponioszowice), Warsaw 2012, pp. 99-127
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. VI woj. katowickie, I. Rejduch-Samkowa, J. Samka (eds.), issue 5 Powiat Gliwicki, compiled by E. Dwornik-Gutowska, M. Gutowski, K. Kutrzebianka, Warsaw 1966, pp. 33-34

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1497-1498 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wiejska 3, Księży Las
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district tarnogórski, commune Zbrosławice
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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