Calvinist church, today the parish church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Nicholas the Bishop and Martyr, Oksa
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Calvinist church, today the parish church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Nicholas the Bishop and Martyr

Oksa

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The church in Oksa is considered one of the oldest Calvinist temples in Europe, built specifically for Calvinists and distinguished by the preservation of almost original architectural forms. The central spatial layout of the building and its austere interior, with the preacher’s pulpit in the centre, most likely resulted from the requirements of the community-based Calvinist liturgy. The co-founder of the temple was Mikołaj Rej, an outstanding writer of the Renaissance.

History

In 1554 Mikołaj Rej founded the town of Oksa. Rej intended to make Oksa the centre of his estate located in the Sandomierz region. For this reason, on the two neighboring hills, he built a magnificent mansion and, in ca. 1566, started to build a Calvinist church. The project was finished in 1570 by the writer’s son, Andrzej Rej. It is believed that before his death in 1569 Mikołaj Rej - a staunch Calvinist - managed to equip his newly constructed church with the items from the church of Ślęcin. Until 1677, the Oksa church was an important centre of Protestantism in Małopolska; between the 1620s and the 1660s, it hosted regional Protestant conventions. In 1678 the owners of Oksa transferred the complex to the Cistercians of Jędrzejów, and the ecclesiastical authorities made it a branch of the parish in Konieczno. Before 1723 the church was to be re-established as a parish, but this view is disputed among scholars. The building was renovated in 1762-1763. Further renovations took place after a fire in 1769. Most probably, it was when the preserved side altars were added. Before 1798, a wooden tower-belfry was erected over the west porch. After the Cistercian monastery in Jedrzejów was disbanded in 1819, the temple was taken over by the diocese. About 1879 new organs were installed. At the end of the 19th century and ca. 1913, the church was thoroughly renovated and a new sacristy was added; the old one, located behind the pulpit, was reduced. Augustyn Łosiński, the bishop of Kielce, consecrated the temple in 1914. In the years 1997-2001, the roof was renovated along with the wooden tower and plaster; the church area was cleared and fenced. In the years 2009-2010, further construction and restoration works were completed, for example, the entire plasterwork was repaired and painted. During these works, small extensions and parts of the original wall painting were discovered in both chapels, yet they are not exhibited today.

Description

The old church was located on a hill, in the east corner of the village, in the middle of an oval square, surrounded by a stone wall and old trees. It is an oriented structure, on the plan of the Greek cross with single-span, rectangular arms. The west arm houses the porch and tower, the east arm the sacristy. Furthermore, in the north-east corner of the building there is a small annex (part of the former sacristy). The structure of the temple is supported by buttresses. The walls of the main body and the extensions were built of stone and brick and were entirely plastered. The tower with the upper chamber was built of wood in a post and lintel system and covered with weatherboards. The church is topped with a gable roof (with a bell turret over the intersection of the nave and chapels) and the “Polish” multi-pitched roof (on the tower). The stone façade of the church, with triangular gables with blind windows, is spread among buttresses and enriched with fine stonework (above the main entrance, a cartouche with the Oksza coat of arms of ca. 1570, and on the east sacristy wall, three "marble" epitaphs of the 16th/17th century made by the stonemasons of Chęciny). Its church interior reveals a double barrel vault (above the nave, chapels, the presbytery). Among the modest fittings there are: a stone pulpit of ca. 1570, two side altars of ca. 1770 and the painting of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 1st half of the 18th century.

The historic building is accessible to visitors. Sightseeing upon prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 04.11.2014.

Bibliography

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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1566 - 1570
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna 20, Oksa
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district jędrzejowski, commune Oksa
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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