Franciscan church, currently serving as the filial church of St Maximilian Kolbe, Nowe
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Franciscan church, currently serving as the filial church of St Maximilian Kolbe

Nowe

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The church is a valuable example of a Gothic edifice with numerous features elevating it to the status of a regional landmark, including the outstanding crypt dating back to the year 1311. It is also an excellent example of a building erected to serve the needs of the Franciscan Order.

History

The Franciscan monks have first arrived in the town of Nowe back in 1282. Two years later, duke Mszczuj II donated them a large parcel of land where they could build their monastery. The very first monastic buildings erected there had most likely been wooden structures. The first reference to the church comes from 1311, when it was mentioned in the last will of a woman named Adelajda Ullmann.

The existing church was erected in the second half of the 14th century. The construction was most likely completed in two stages. The crypt beneath the church and the chancel were the first to be constructed; following their completion in 1311, the nave of the church was erected, with the construction works coming to an end somewhere around the year 1350.

In 1335, grandmaster Dietrich von Altenburg reaffirmed the gift of land made to the monks, while one year later the entire area was included in the plan for the construction of the town’s fortifications.

In 1410, during the war between Poland and the Teutonic Order, the church sustained damage so severe that pope Martin V decided to grant an indulgence in order for the reconstruction of the building to proceed. The overall decline in monastic life in the 15th century has led to the church being taken over by the Protestants in 1542. In 1581, the church was reclaimed by the Catholics and was placed under the administration of the bishop of the Kujawy region. According to the records produced during the inspection visit which took place in 1597, the church was “in a state of severe ruin” at the time. In 1604, Jerzy Konopacki, the castellan of Chełmno, invited the Bernardine monks to establish a presence in the town of Nowe. The generous donations made by the Konopacki family, the Jasiński family from Płochocin and Stanisław Kostka, the alderman (starosta) of Tczew, have made it possible for the church to be restored; in addition, the church received new fixtures and fittings and a trio of new chapels; the latter, however, have not survived to the present day. The works were completed somewhere around the year 1607. During the war against Sweden, the church and the monastery were severely damage and then gutted by a devastating fire. The reconstruction efforts began in 1658. In 1663, the church received a new roof.

In 1779, the interior was redesigned in the Baroque style. Year 1810 brought about the dissolution of the Bernardine monastery. In 1812, the church served as an infirmary for the wounded French soldiers. In 1841, the building was handed over to the local Evangelical community. One year later, the monastery buildings were demolished. On October 26, 1899, the interior fixtures and fittings of the church were lost to the blaze, as was the flat ceiling above the chancel, the vaulted ceilings of the naves and the western gable.

In the years 1902-1903, the Evangelical community had the church reconstructed on the basis of a design created at the Ministry of Public Projects in Berlin. The reconstruction works themselves, headed by E. Kothe and supervised by Maas and Saegert, resulted in the overall architectural form of the building being modified, with the addition of a tower and new, Gothic Revival vaulted ceilings. In 1945, the church was taken over by the Catholic parish in Nowe. Shortly afterwards, however, in 1948, the church was confiscated by the municipal authorities, which have then made it available to the local furniture manufacturing plant for use as a storage facility. In 1969, the building was handed over to the Praesidium of the Municipal National Council in Świecie with the intention of converting it into a community centre. On May 16, 1977, the efforts undertaken by the bishop’s curia in Chełmno finally paid off, with the church being handed over to the parish of St Matthew in Nowe and adapted to serve as a place of worship accompanying the nearby school.

Description

The church is situated on a fenced piece of land located at the intersection of the Wojska Polskiego and Zakątek streets, in the south-eastern part of the Old Town. It is oriented towards the east. The original, Gothic structure has seen a number of redesigns throughout the years, ultimately attaining its current, Gothic Revival form.

It is a hall church designed on a rectangular floor plan, consisting of a four-bay chancel with a semi-hexagonal end section, preceded by a three-bay, three-nave main body, with the southern aisle being narrower than the northern one; a six-storey tower erected in the years 1902-1903 emerges from the north-eastern corner of the nave. A sacristy located on the same side of the church as the tower adjoins the chancel, while the north-eastern part of the main body is adjoined by an additional, two-storey annex. A crypt dating back to the year 1311 is located beneath the eastern part of the chancel.

The front façade follows a three-axial, symmetrical layout, its bottom section partitioned with buttresses; a pointed-arch portal with splayed, profiled reveals is positioned on the axis of the façade. Above the portal rises a blind window with a tripartite tracery and rosette in its top section, its outline similar to that of the portal below. The façade is topped with a cornice above which rises a stepped gable divided by vertical shafts into seven distinct sections and adorned with bar tracery. The side façades are flanked by buttresses and topped with a dentil frieze and an eaves cornice.

The interior of the church consists of a three-nave, three-bay main body and a chancel separated from the rest of the interior by a rood arch with a pointed outline. The chancel follows a four-bay layout and is graced with a stellar vault, its ribs flowing down the walls to meet corbels adorned with floral decorations as well as sculpted lion’s or owl’s heads at the bottom. The nave features a lierne vault supported by octagonal pillars. Galleries with a brick parapet adorned with a frieze consisting of a row of decorative panels can be found in the side aisles as well as in the western bay of the main nave; these galleries are a later addition, constructed in the years 1902-1903.

Underneath the eastern part of the chancel there is a crypt covered with a vaulted ceiling divided into triangular cells and supported by a single, octagonal pillar positioned in the centre of the chamber.

A notable feature of the interior décor is the group of sculptures depicting the scene of the Crucifixion, which was relocated here from the parish church in Nowe.

Limited access to the monument. The church may be viewed from the outside; the interiors can be explored during church service.

compiled by Bogna Derkowska-Kostkowska, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Arszyński Marian, Sztuka regionu świeckiego, [in:] Jasiński Kazimierz (ed.) Dzieje Świecia nad Wisłą i jego regionu, vol. 2, Warsaw-Poznań-Toruń 1980.
  • Karta ewidencyjna, Kościół poewangelicki, filialny pw. św. Maksymiliana Kolbe, prepared by A. Frąckiewicz, Bydgoszcz 1996, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Toruń, branch office in Bydgoszcz (ul. Jezuicka 2).
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XI: Województwo bydgoskie, issue 15: Powiat świecki, prepared by Chrzanowski Tadeusz, Żurkowska Teresa, Warsaw 1970, pp. 24-26.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1. poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wojska Polskiego 15, Nowe
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district świecki, commune Nowe - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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