The parish church of the Margaret, Moskorzew
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The parish church of the Margaret

Moskorzew

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One of the surviving churches of the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region which was originally erected for the local knights in the second half of the 14th century, based on the churches founded by King Casimir the Great. Its substantial historical value stems mostly from the fact that its founder was Klemens from Moskorzew (who died in 1408), the deputy crown chancellor and a trusted associate of King Władysław Jagiełło. The surviving architectural features and stone detailing (pinnacles, a pair of portals) have led to the Moskorzew church attaining the status of a historical monument of regional importance, having a considerable value from the standpoint of the history of art and architecture.

History

The parish church of St Margaret is believed to have been funded by the deputy crown chancellor Klemens from Moskorzew; construction of the edifice took place somewhere around the year 1380, with the original building consisting of a rectangular nave and a slightly narrower chancel. The church also featured a square tower positioned on the middle axis of the western façade. Between 1558 and 1593-1594, the church was most likely temporarily taken over by the Calvinist community founded by Stanisław Moskorzowski, who had been a Catholic parish priests before his conversion to Calvinism. His son, Hieronim, denounced Calvinism and joined the Polish Brethren. It is now believed that a temple of the Brethren may have existed in Moskorzew back in 1563, which means that it existed in parallel with the Calvinist church. Whether the church itself underwent any alteration works during this turbulent period, one cannot say. It was only the restoration performed in the years 1892-1906 which had a truly lasting impact on the building’s appearance, with the necessary funds being provided by the erstwhile owners of the surrounding lands, countess Maria Potocka and her daughter, Helena. It was at that point that the southern chapel was added and that the uppermost storey of the tower was remodelled. The gables of the church – including, in particular, the chancel gable-end wall – were partially reconstructed and partially redesigned. The interior of the church was thoroughly remodelled. The additions and alterations made were all designed in the historicist style and have not disrupted the original nature of the building in any way. In the 1930s, a storage section adjoining the northern wall was added, forming an extension of the existing sacristy.

Description

The church in Moskorzew features a compact silhouette consisting of a rectangular, three-bay nave and a slightly lower and narrower two-bay chancel with a rectangular end section. A five-storey tower, designed on a square floor plan and featuring a vaulted vestibule on its ground floor level adjoins the western side of the nave. The uppermost storey of the axially positioned tower is designed on an octagonal plan and features a tall, pyramid roof, its design being the result of the Gothic Revival redesign of the late 19th/early 20th century. The walls of the nave and the chancel are reinforced with buttresses. The pointed-arch windows in the southern wall of the nave as well as the bricked-up window with stone tracery visible in the eastern chancel wall further emphasise the Gothic nature of the church. The steep gable roofs of the church and the pyramid-shaped roofs above the tower and the steeple had until recently featured a wood shingle cladding. The church is a brick structure erected using both ordinary and overburnt brick, arranged in the so-called Gothic (Polish) bond. Interestingly, this bond was also used for the reconstructed or added sections, with the exception of the southern chapel. The walls of the nave and the chancel are topped with friezes formed by diagonally shaped bricks; similar friezes also separate the individual storeys of the tower as well as the gable above the chancel end section. The detailing – both original and reconstructed – is made of stone; notable pieces thereof include the socle cornices, two surviving pinnacles adorned with foliate ornamentation and with the Pilawa coat of arms, as well as a pair of Gothic portals. The western portal leading into the porch, reconstructed in the years 1892-1906, features an iron door adorned with an iron lattice pattern, renovated and repaired during the same period. The door is adorned with a band carrying a minuscule inscription which reads, “M. Clemens de Moskorzow hoc opus fecit-1380”. The inscription is accompanied by the Pilawa coat of arms. Small, circular depressions can be seen in the lower portions of the brick walls of the church, including, in particular, on the southern side thereof. Similar pits or indentations can also be seen in the surfaces of the walls of a church in Rudawa near Cracow; according to local traditions, these holes would be drilled during the consecration of swords by the local knights, before they marched out into battle. The origins of these singular indentations in the walls of the Moskorzew church may be similar, although the local tradition is slightly different in this regard, telling of a spring fire-starting ceremony whereby a wooden drill would be put to the wall to make the indentations in question.

During the restoration and alteration works performed in the late 19th/early 20th century, new vaulted ceilings were constructed above the porch, the sacristy and the chancel; in addition, a new organ gallery and stone galleries above the sacristy were also constructed, the latter opening towards the chancel through a distinctive Gothic Revival triforium which forms one of the most peculiar features of the Moskorzew church. The interior fixtures and fittings date back to the period between the 17th and the 19th century.

Two crypts are concealed beneath the flooring of the church, accessible through a narrow passage with a flight of steps concealed underneath a preserved tomb slab. A trio of coffins located within a layer of earlier burials which was subsequently submerged in lime have survived inside the western crypt. The tomb slab covering the crypt entrance commemorates Krzysztof Ważyński, the lord of the manor and owner of the village in the years 1630-1653.

The site is open to visitors. The interiors may be explored by prior arrangement with the parish priest.

Compiled by Aleksandra Ziółkowska, 20-11-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, Moskorzew, kościół par. pw. św. Małgorzaty (Parish church of St Margaret), prepared by A. Broda, 1983, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Kielce.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. III, issue 12, Warsaw 1966.
  • Hadamik C., Moskorzew i jego zabytki, “Ziemia Częstochowska”, vol. 35, 2009.
  • Hadamik C., Zabytki powiatu włoszczowskiego, Kielce-Włoszczowa 2010.
  • Sperka J., Nieznana płyta grobowa w kościele parafialnym w Moskorzewie, Przyczynek do dziejów Moskorzowskich i Ważyńskich h. Pilawa, “Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Heraldycznego”, 6, 2003, pp. 101-108.
  • Wiśniewski J., Historyczny opis kościołów, miast, zabytków i pamiątek w powiecie włoszczowskim, Marjówka Opocz. 1932.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1380 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Moskorzew 182
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district włoszczowski, commune Moskorzew
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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