Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist, Paczków
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Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist

Paczków

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The Church of St. John the Evangelist in Paczków has preserved the shape and layout of a Gothic hall church, which together with the layers of subsequent epochs form an architecturally uniform and discernible form. The changes introduced were of utilitarian nature on the one hand and reflected the transformations of ideological content and artistic forms from the 14th century to the early 20th century on the other hand. In the parish church adapted for defence purposes, there were a legendary "Tatar well", Renaissance stone epitaphs, Mannerist altarpiece of a tomb chapel, chapel with furnishings in Baroque style, and nineteenth-century neo-Gothic décor, fixtures and fittings, including traces of painted decorations, main altar, pulpit, and choir.

History

The church, which was originally a wooden structure, was erected in an area delimited when Paczków was being chartered (1254). The construction of a masonry church began after 1360 and was funded by Bishop Przecław of Pogorzela. The ceremonial concentration of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist took place only in 1389. The then church consisted of a three-aisle body and a narrower chancel. Initially, the body was covered with a tall gable roof, which was just above the windows. The tower, which was lower than the present one, completely made of stone, was surmounted by a conical cupola, later changed several times.

Alterations to the church were associated with the foundations or were due to a threat of war and the need to repair the damage. In the 1st half of the 15th century (before 1447), the chancel was extended by a two-bay vaulted chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the south. In 1462, the church was extended by a tower, which was partially demolished in 1429. Then the vaults were installed: tripartite vault over the side aisles and the sacristy (1470s), stellar vault over the main aisle, and net vault over the chancel (1491).

In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, most of the buildings featured a wooden structure (stone fortifications were erected after the middle of the 14th century, and the masonry town hall only in 1520-1522). The brick parish church was therefore one of the few places to shelter the inhabitants in the turbulent times of wars, invasions, and frequent fires. After previous experiences (the Hussite wars in 1428, among others), in 1529, on the initiative of Bishop Jakub von Salza, the church walls were adapted for defence purposes for fear of a Turkish invasion, transforming roofs and building shooting porches topped with an attic. At that time, the southern aisle was provided with a round stone well casing, which was called a Tatar well in legends (its iron finish was made in the 19th century).

The south porch housing a library on the first floor dates from 1548, while the northern one from 1562. The said St. Mary's chapel became a tomb chapel of the knightly family von Maltitz in 1588. The newly redone interior was fitted with a Mannerist altar funded by brothers Jan and Albert. In 1701, a Baroque chapel of St. Roch was added to the north-east.

The church and its fixtures and fittings underwent several renovations. The information about that is contained in the inscriptions left in situ: the oldest inscription on a structural component of the roof truss dates back to 1499. The church was renovated in 1831 and 1896-1897; the last renovation covering the interior involved the construction of roofs and stair turrets on the northern and southern side of the aisle body, leading to the choir.

In 1858, woodcarver Severin Kutzer made part of the fixtures and fittings, among others, the main altar. The floor, previously made of clinker, was replaced with marble floor in 1860 (chancel) and 1873 (nave). The neo-Gothic choir was built in the western part in 1882. In 1889, on the 500th anniversary of the consecration of the church, three new stained glass windows were installed in the chancel made by a company based in Munich. In 1937-1938, a heating system was installed, replacing a part of the crypt of the Maltitz family with a boiler room and fuel storage.

The last restoration work in the church involved the organ (2008) and the altar in the chapel of the Maltitz family (2014).

Description

The church is located south of the market square, only one block of buildings away from it. It was made of brick laid in a Gothic bond, using burr bricks, on stone foundations and a tall base course made of crushed stone. It is a three-aisle hall church oriented towards the east, with a tower adjoining the aisle body and the chancel to the north. The two-bay body is connected to a narrower, also two-bay, chancel closed off on five sides, which adjoins a sacristy and a tower to the north and a chapel of the Maltitz family (former St. Mary's chapel) to the south. The body of the church adjoins a porch and a chapel of St. Roch to the north, a southern porch, and polygonal stair turrets in the western corners. The main entrance leads via stone stairs from the west, through a Gothic pointed-arch stone portal with stucco decorations (late 15th c.) and an inscription informing about renovation to the portal in 1577. The façades, except for architectural details (main portal, attic) and the north façade of the porch and chapel, are not plastered. The peripheral walls of the main body and the chancel, originally covered with tall gable roofs, are elevated, and topped with an attic with embrasures over the nave and decoration in the form of the so-called dovetail. The church is buttressed. Tall slender tracery stained glass windows allow more light into the interior. The eight-storey tower is surmounted by an octagonal cupola from a later time, which is clad with copper sheet.

The tomb chapel of the von Maltitz family is covered with a net vault, where keystones come from the original Gothic vault. In the chapel there are epitaph plaques of knights of the von Maltitz family, who were buried under the floor. The family crypt was partially destroyed during the construction of the boiler room under the chapel (1937-1938). In 1728, a wooden gallery, which does not exist today, was installed along the northern wall of the chapel.

The Baroque chapel of St. Roch with rounded corners is covered with a cupola on pendentives, surmounted by a lantern.

Under the white paint that today covers the interior of the church, there are spots with visible painted decorations in the main aisle (1491, Eagle of St. John, coat of arms of Bishop John IV Roth, and fragment of a figurative scene), on the pier between the aisles (1536, coat of arms of Bishop Jakub von Salza), in the northern porch (late 16th c., foliage motif), and nineteenth-century architectural decorative murals.

The main items of the fixtures and fittings of the church date from the 19th century: main altar of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, side altars, choir, organ, marble baptismal font, confessional. The Mannerist sandstone altar funded by the Maltitz family for their tomb chapel is attributed to Georg Grebacher, known from the epitaph of siblings of the von Buchta family in the Church of Sts. James and Agnes in Nysa. The chapel of St. Roch is fitted with a Baroque altar in the form of an oval frame. Inside and on the façades of the church, there are stone figurative epitaphs and inscription plaques from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The church is in use and is open to visitors.

compiled by Joanna Szot, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Opole, 31-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Biller L., Neisse, Ottmachau und Patschkau, die Städte am Mittelauf der Glatzer Neisse (Veröffentlichungen der Schlesien Gesellschaft für Erkunde E.V. und des Geographischen Instituts der Universität Breslau, H. 15), Breslau 1932
  • Brosig F., Führer durch Patschkau und Umgegend, Patschkau 1911
  • Christ E., Patschkau aus der Geschichte meiner Heimatstadt, Dülmen 1989
  • Dąbrowski K., Paczków. Szkice z dziejów miasta, Opole 1996
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. VII: Województwo opolskie, issue 9: Powiat nyski, prepared by T. Chrzanowski, M. Kornecki, Warsaw 1963, pp. 143-150
  • Knötel P., Die Wappen am Westportal der katholischen Pfarrkirche in Patschkau und ihre Bedeutung für deren Baugeschichte, Zeitschrift des Vereins für Geschichte Schlesiens 1917, Bd. 51, pp. 73-91
  • Kopietz J.A., Geschichte der katholischen Pfarrei Patschkau, Zeitschrift des Vereins für Geschichte und Alterthum Schlesiens 1883, Bd. 17, pp. 94-150
  • Lutsch H., Bilderwerk schlesischer Kunstdenkmaler, Breslau 1903.
  • Lutsch H., Verzeichnis der Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Schlesien, Bd. 4: Die Kunstdenkmäler des Reg.-Bezirks Oppeln, Tl. 1, Breslau 1890
  • Mohr H.G., Schiller L., 1254-2004.750 Jahre Patschkau. Die Geschichte der Stadt Patschkau in Schlesien, Osnabrück 2004
  • Polke A., Patschkau und Umgegend, Patschkau 1927
  • Steinborn B., Otmuchów, Paczków (Śląsk w zabytkach sztuki), Wrocław 1982
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warsaw 2006, pp. 665-667

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: II poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna , Paczków
  • Location: Voivodeship opolskie, district nyski, commune Paczków - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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