Cathedral church of St Stanislaus Kostka, Łódź
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Cathedral church of St Stanislaus Kostka

Łódź

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The church evidences the dynamic development of the town at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. It was built owing to consistent efforts of the construction committee whose aim was to obtain a favourable location and announce a design contest for the building.

Both the external part of the church as well as its interiors are maintained in a uniform neo-Gothic style. The external part is clad with bright clinker brick and sandstone elements. The gable of the tapering tower and vaults feature a unique - for that time - reinforced concrete structure. In the interior, lavishly decorated altars, ambo, stained glass windows, pews for the faithful, and numerous commemorative plaques designed by famous sculptors are worth particular attention.

History

The second half and the end of the 19th century marked a time of fast development of the city, inhabited then by more than 200 thousand citizens, of which approximately a half were Roman Catholic. The two existing parishes did not offer sufficient pastoral guardianship over such a large number of faithful. The southern part of the city, heavily industrialised and densely populated by Roman Catholic citizens working in the plants of Scheibler and Grohman were virtually deprived of it. In response to that situation, the parish priest of the church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, prelate Ludwik Dąbrowski, undertook efforts aimed at the construction of a new Roman Catholic church. In 1895, the construction committee for the church was established. For the purposes of the planned investment, the square by Piotrkowska Street, at the intersection of Ks. Ignacy Skorupko (former Placowa Street) was designated.

In mid-1898, the national press reported about an open and unrestricted contest for the design of the future church. The information was repeated by numerous foreign newspapers. The detailed agenda of the competition included a number of items strictly specifying the requirements connected, among other things, to the construction costs, location of the main entrance to the church, location of the rectory, or number of seats and standing room for the faithful. Also the type of lighting (gas) and ventilation was determined. As a result of such a wide-spread announcement of the contest in the press, the interest of both Polish as well as foreign design companies was enormous. In total, 38 designs were submitted (e.g. from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Vienna, and Prague), from which the contest jury, invited especially to decide in such an important contest, were to select the winning design. The jury included, among others, Metropolitan of Warsaw archbishop Wincenty Chościak Popiel, representatives of the construction committee, two eminent Warsaw architects: Konstanty Wojciechowski and Stefan Szyller, and a renown artist from Łódź, Juliusz Jung.

In 1901, the construction was commenced according to the design of “Wende and Zarske” company from Łódź, corrected by J. Wende on the basis of guidelines provided by Józef Dziekanowski - one of the architects invited to Warsaw to provide an opinion on the winning design.

The World War I and early exhaustion of the funds caused interruption in the construction of the magnificent church. The church tower was not built.

On 10 December 1920, Pope Benedict XV established a diocese in Łódź, and the church of St Stanislaus Kostka was granted the status of a cathedral.

On 15 October 1922, it was consecrated by bishop Wincenty Tymieniecki, its the then parish priest.

In the mid 1920s, the construction of the tower was completed, and the church was consecrated.

On 11 May 1971, as a result of a fire in the cathedral, vaults, main altar, and pipe organ were damaged. Renovation of the damaged structural parts and fittings was completed in 1977.

In 1989, Pope John Paul II granted the church the status of a minor basilica.

In 1992, the diocese of Łódź became an archdiocese, and the church gained the status of an archcathedral basilica.

Description

The church as can be seen today was built on a Latin cross floor plan, with a chancel from the west, and a two-bay transect crossing the five-bay body. Also the external part reflects the legible partition of the interior. The bays are accentuated from the outside by narrow, pointed-arch windows and buttresses between them. Over the buttresses, flying buttresses are situated, emphasising the lightness of the construction and defining in a clear way its style.

Pale-yellow face brick with which walls and friezes running under cornices crowing individual storeys, provides the whole with a unique character. Also door and window surrounds are made of brick. Colours of the façades are enriched with stone elements in the form of titled roofs covering steps of the plinth, cornices, and buttresses. Also pinnacles over the buttresses and slender bar tracery of windows are made from stone. In the pointed-arch top section of the entrance portal, there is a mosaic with depictions of the saint patron of the church, made in the 1960s.

On the slender roof at the intersection of corps de logis and the transept, there is a steeple turret topped with an octagonal spire. The tapering tower, higher than the whole building, was located on the axis of the front façade and is slightly advanced in relation to the wall face. In its central part, the main entrance to the cathedral was placed. The tower, along with the crucifix topping it, is 104 m high and was built on a square plan. The light, openwork structure housing church bells, along with the slender cupola and triangular roofs topped with orbs at the basis of the cupola, constitute a dominant feature. The whole is complemented by small turrets in the corners of the central octagon.

The interior of the archcathedral is equally spectacular and uniform in style - just like the exterior. Heavy stone piers, dividing the space into three naves, support pointed-arch arcades. Over them, walls of the main nave above the side naves are partitioned with a row of blind triforia, with high pointed-arch windows over them. The cross-rib vaults covering the naves has light and gentle outline harmonising with decoration in the form of slender supporting ribs.

The interior is enriched by lavishly decorated altars located in the chancel and at the side walls of the transept. The neo-Gothic style of lavishly sculptured, colourful and gilded religious depictions perfectly complements the whole and ensures its style uniformity. The main altar of the Transfiguration of Jesus, with the title scene in the central part, the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary in the right arm of the transept, the altar of the patron saint of the cathedral, and the ambo are worth particular attention. Elaborate detail, extraordinary care of the shape and colour of every item, places the church fittings in the lead of the most beautiful churches from the 20th century in Poland.

The enormous window openings are filled with colourful stained glass. In the chancel and the transverse nave, there are original [stained glass windows] from 1911. Stained glass windows in the main nave were produced, in Art Deco style, by the workshop of a stained glass artist from Cracow, S. G. Żeleński, according to a design by Jerzy Winiarz. There were made in 1927. The colourful stained glass windows of the side naves and the cloisters were made by Helena Bożyk in the beginning of the 1960s.

Over the main entrance, there is a choir with pipe organ casing, resting on two subtle columns. On the corbels topping the columns, there are figures of St Peter and St Paul, surrounded by foliage motifs. The openwork balustrade along with the pipe organ casing occupy the whole width of the main nave.

For several years, conservation works have been carried out in the archcathedral. The façades, internal walls, and stone piers have regained their former glory. The chancel has been renovated, and the historic stained glass windows have underwent conservation works. In the side naves and in the cloister of the chancel, newly designed chandeliers have been hung.

The style uniformity of the architectural part and the fittings of interiors of the archcathedral basilica is referred to by the researches and enthusiast of the sacred architecture of Łódź as a consistent realisation of the neo-Gothic ideal of the House of God. Its stylistic features, decorative expression and composition allow for considering it one of the most outstanding works of architecture representing features of the French Gothic in Poland.

The church is accessible all year round apart from hours of services.

compiled by Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Łódź, 25-09-2014.

Bibliography

  • Bandurka M., Rosin R., Łódź 1423-1823-1973. Zarys dziejów i wybór dokumentów, Łódź 1974
  • Bazylika archikatedralna w Łodzi pw. św. Stanisława Kostki, tekst: K. Stefański, Bydgoszcz 2001
  • Rynkowska A., Ulica Piotrkowska, Łódź 1970
  • Stefański K., Atlas architektury dawnej Łodzi do 1939 r., Łódź 2008, s. 104
  • Stefański K., Architekt Józef Kaban, Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki, t. XXXV, 1990, z. 3-4
  • Stefański K., Architektura sakralna Łodzi w okresie przemysłowego rozwoju miasta 1821-1914, Łódź 1995
  • Strzałkowski J., Architekci i budowniczowie w Łodzi do r. 1944, Łódź 1997
  • Urbaniak A., Śladami starej Łodzi, t. I, Łódź 1988, t. II, Łódź 1993
  • www.ap.gov.pl zakładka Wirtualne wystawy: Łódź- miasto wielu wyznań, Bazylika archikatedralna św. Stanisława Kostki "katedra"- ul. Ks. Skorupki 9
  • www.ap.gov.pl zakładka Wirtualne wystawy: Świątynie w obiektywie Włodzimierza Pfeiffera

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Piotrkowska 265, Łódź
  • Location: Voivodeship łódzkie, district Łódź, commune Łódź
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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