The former Jesuit complex, Lublin
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The former Jesuit complex

Lublin

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The oldest Jesuit church in the Polish Crown (commencement of construction works - 1586), initially combining the features of Italian architecture of the Early Baroque period with a décor designed in the local variant of the Renaissance style. The mid-18th century alteration works have given the church a uniform style, blending the transformed architectural structure (chapels replacing the side aisles), vaulting (the use of spherical vaults), fixtures and fittings (brick side altarpieces) and painted decorations executed by Józef Meyer (trompe l’œil frescos applied throughout the entire interior of the church) and combining them all into a consistent work of Late Baroque art.

History

The church, designed in a mixture of the Renaissance and Baroque styles, was erected in years 1586-1604, with the final completion of the works taking place in 1625. The architects responsible for the design of the church were Giovanni Maria Bernardoni and Giuseppe Brizia, both of them members of the Jesuit order. In years 1662-1667, the façade was partially redesigned, while the more comprehensive, Late Baroque redesign of the entire church took place in years 1752-1757, after a devastating fire, with the architect Franciszek A. Koźmiński being responsible for the final design). It was at that point that the trompe l’œil interior paintings were executed by Józef Meyer, encompassing the entirety of the interior. An ensemble of side altarpieces with stucco decorations was also added at that time. In addition, the church also received a large sacristy (sometimes referred to as the “acoustic” sacristy) as well as a treasury which adjoined the chancel towards the back. The colonnaded portico with a balcony, designed in the Classicist style by Antonio Corazzi, dates back to 1821. During the subsequent redesign in the years 1845-53, the front façade received its Classicist décor and a smaller portico with a pediment. The front façade was partially destroyed in 1939; it was reconstructed in years 1946-1951, with parts of the structure (the upper sections) being restored to their original, Baroque appearance. The original portico has also been reconstructed. The architect responsible for the reconstruction effort was Czesław Gawdzik).

The college buildings, designed in the Baroque style, were erected in stages in years 1625-1692. In years 1752-1754 they had to be reconstructed due to fire damage. In years 1815-1818, the eastern, southern and western wings were all demolished. The sole remaining wing - the northern one - was lost to the blaze during World War II and subsequently rebuilt after 1958.

The school building, likewise designed in the Baroque style, was erected in the years 1609-1625; in years 1752-1754 the school was rebuilt after a fire and later received a second storey in the second half of the 19th century. In years 1958-1966, the building was reconstructed and adapted to serve as an archive; its interior layout was partially changed in the process and the original vaulted ceilings were never rebuilt.

The Trinitarian Tower - former monastery wicket gate, erected back in the 17th century and transformed into a Baroque tower in years 1693-1701, was subsequently extended further upwards and redesigned in the Gothic Revival style in years 1819-1821 according to the design produced by Antonio Corazzi. Today, the tower serves as an Archdiocese Museum building and an observation deck.

The tenement house was built in the 1st half of the 16th century. During the first half of the 17th century and somewhere around the year 1754, the building underwent a series of alteration works, its façade being joined to the façade of the Jesuit school. The tenement house is now private property and is not in use.

Description

The former Jesuit complex forms the southern part of the Old Town Hill ensemble of buildings; it is located in the vicinity of the former city walls and moat, bordering with what is currently known as Królewska street towards the south and with Jezuicka street towards the north; the surviving wings of the Jesuit school and college, separated by the Trinitarian Tower, form part of the frontage of Jezuicka street. The church occupies the outermost, southern part of the complex, with the Cathedral Square stretching in front of its façade and ending with the retaining wall towards the south, adorned by a balustrade. Following the line of the front façade, the two-storey connecting section in the form of an arcaded portico with a hallway on the first floor runs between the school and the church, closing off the school courtyard from the west.

The church was initially designed as a three-nave, basilica-type structure with a short chancel, its height being identical to that of the nave. The church features a pair of towers. The main body of the church contains three arcaded bays and a single longer bay positioned next to the chancel, with walls where open, arched spaces would usually be; beyond these walls lies a pair of octagonal chapels positioned at the ends of the side naves. Following the completion of alteration works, the church became a single-nave structure with chapels taking up part of the space formerly occupied by the side aisles and accessible by way of dedicated passages. The chancel was designed on a floor plan shaped as a two-thirds of a circle, adjoined towards the north by the smaller sacristy and, towards the south, by the vestibule leading to the larger (“acoustic”) sacristy which takes up the south-eastern corner of the church complex. There is also a treasury, connected to the sacristy and designed on an elongated oval floor plan; this structure adjoins the chancel towards the east. A two-storey annex abuts what had originally been the wall of the front façade; the annex features a tripartite porch in the form of a vaulted hallway, preceded by a portico with three pairs of columns. The interior is notable for the use of dual composite pilasters rising from the plinths below as well as of a full entablature which runs around both the nave and the chancel. The bays of both the nave, the side chapels and the porch feature sail vaults (sometimes referred to as the “Bohemian” vaults) supported by structural arches; the octagonal chapels are crowned with domes rising from the tholobates below, with each dome being topped with a roof lantern. The “acoustic” sacristy features a flattened sail vault, while the treasury is covered with a double cupola ceiling with an oval opening in the lower dome.

The front façade follows a three-storey design, its lower storey being designed in the Doric style (giant order) and encompassing a projecting annex with a porch. It is partitioned by three pairs of pilasters in the middle section, preceded by a portico with six columns, topped with a balcony with a balustrade. The second storey is divided into three arched bays, supported by pairs of widely spaced composite pilasters with small corbels projecting out of the capitals, with each pair of pilasters flanking a small niche. Finally, the third storey is made up of a pair of small towers crowned by cupolas with lanterns on top, with the towers themselves rising above the roof parapet over the second storey. The towers flank the gable in the form of an arcaded aedicula designed in Doric style, flanked by a pair of tapering, volute-like structures. The arcade in the centre of the gable is occupied by a modern bas-relief depicting a medallion with the monogram of Christ inside a halo. The second-storey entablature with a corbelled frieze runs around the entire church. The southern façade is supported by a row of buttresses; the remaining façades feature no partitions whatsoever.

Fixtures and fittings: The entire interior of the church and of its treasury and sacristy is covered with trompe l’œil frescos. Inside the chancel there is a wooden altarpiece dating back to the first half of the 17th century as well as an ensemble of architectural masonry altarpieces in the side chapels and in the north-eastern chapel, the latter being dedicated to the Olelkowicz-Słucki noble family.

The school building is a three-storey structure designed on an L-shaped floor plan; its interior follows a single-bay layout with a hallway in the northern wing from the courtyard side. The building features reconstructed vaulted ceilings on both the basement and ground floor level. The façade overlooking the courtyard features no partitions whatsoever; the façade overlooking the street, which forms a single whole with the façade of the tenement house at 15 Jezuicka street, is a multi-axial design, its upper storeys being partitioned through the use of decorative framing that joins together with the surrounds of the windows below. The window surrounds themselves are an interesting design featuring label stops which flank reverse ogee arches with keystones in the middle.

The Jesuit college is a three-storey building with a low upper storey (mezzanine), its interiors following a single-bay layout with a hallway in the northern section. The ground floor part of the building features vaulted ceilings. The southern façade follows a multi-axial design, with Doric pilasters in giant order set atop the plinth positioned at the ground floor level. The areas between the pilasters feature decorative framing, with the arcade motif on the first floor level breaking the monotony of the design. A mitered architrave runs above the mezzanine windows. The windows are adorned with decorative surrounds. The north façade uses string courses to separate each of the individual levels, with the windows being adorned by surrounds with window heads.

The Trinitarian Tower is a brick structure designed in the Gothic Revival style, with a pointed-arch gateway on the north-south axis leading across its three-storey, square-plan body terminating with a terrace surmounted by a fourth, narrower storey designed on an octagonal floor plan and featuring a series of pointed-arch doorways and blind windows, with an oculus above each of them. Further upwards there is the fifth, final storey - an octagonal, wooden structure, its base smaller than that of the storey below it. This final section of the tower features four balcony doors leading out to a narrow terrace beyond. Both the entire structure and the pyramid roof above it are clad with sheet metal. The window openings and blind windows are topped with pointed-arches and adorned with tracery. The lower levels are divided using lesenes and string courses.

The church is available on all days during the week, while the tower can be accessed during museum opening hours.

compiled by Roman Zwierzchowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Lublin, 05-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Natoński B., Geneza i budowa katedry lubelskiej (kościoła pojezuickiego) 1580—1625, “Nasza Przeszłość” 1967 Vol. 27, pp. 63-133
  • Kowalczyk J., Architektura sakralna między Wisłą a Bugiem w okresie późnego baroku [in:] Dzieje Lubelszczyzny, vol. VI Między Wschodem a Zachodem, part III, Lublin 1992, pp. 37-118;
  • Łoziński J. Z., Grobowe kaplice kopułowe w Polsce 1520—1620, Warsaw 1973;
  • Niedźwiadek R., Kościół pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela i Jana Ewangelisty w Lublinie. Bazylika oo. Jezuitów - dawniej i archikatedra - dziś, [in:] Kościoły i klasztory Lublina świetle badań archeologicznych, Lublin 2012, pp. 109-193
  • Paszenda J., Chronologia budowy zespołu gmachów jezuickich w Lublinie, “Biuletyn Historii Sztuki”, Vol. 30:1968, no. 2, pp. 157-172;
  • Paszenda J., Lubelskie projekty Michała Hintza i Jakuba Briano, “Kwart. Archit. Urb.” Vol. 17: 1972, issue 1, pp. 41-58;
  • Żywicki J., Architektura neogotycka na Lubelszczyźnie, Lublin 1998

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1586-1604
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Jezuicka , Lublin
  • Location: Voivodeship lubelskie, district Lublin, commune Lublin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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