Reformed Franciscans monastery complex, Pilica
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Reformed Franciscans monastery complex

Pilica

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A representative example of a Late Baroque monastery complex of the Franciscan friars, erected in the first half of the 18th century. Despite the 19th-century modifications made in the course of its reconstruction following a fire, the structure is very well-preserved in terms of both functional layout and overall silhouette.

History

The monastery complex of the Observant Franciscan friars was erected in the years 1743-1746 for the funds donated by the erstwhile owner of Pilica, Maria Józefa Sobieska née Wessel, the wife of prince Konstanty Sobieski. In 1793, at the initiative of Teodor Wessel, the heir to the estate of Maria J. Sobieska, the chapel of Michael the Archangel (the so-called Founders’ Chapel) was erected, adjoining the chancel and later renamed as the chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (from 1897 onwards). In 1857, the complex was partially destroyed during a devastating fire; as a result, in the years 1857-1861, a series of construction and renovation works took place, including the reconstruction of the roof truss of both the church and the monastery, the comprehensive renovation of the monastery interiors, the construction of new barrel vaults above the monastic cells as well as the construction of a pavilion containing the library and the pantry, located east of the monastery itself. A number of new utility buildings situated in the courtyard were also constructed during that period. In 1864, the active involvement of the monks in the January Uprising brought about the decision on the dissolution of the monastery, even though the monks themselves remained in the town of Pilica. In 1899, the chapel of St Anthony was erected alongside the nave of the church, next to the Founders’ Chapel. In the years 1902-1915, the monastery buildings remained under the administration of the community council. In 1915, the Franciscan friars made their return to Pilica. In 1925, the painted decorations which continue to grace the interiors of the church to this day were executed. In 1946, the church became the centre of the newly formed parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Descritpion

The monastery complex is located in Biskupice near Pilica, on the southern slope of the hill situated on the north-western edge of the historic trade settlement which had existed here before the town of Pilica was chartered. The monastery is positioned some distance up the hill from what is now known as Klasztorna street. The complex encompasses the monastery itself, consisting of four wings surrounding an inner garth, as well as the church adjoining the monastery to the north and towering above the entire complex. East of the church lies an enclosed churchyard. The entire complex is surrounded by a tall brick wall with an entrance gate and an additional wicket gate leading into the church. The inner side of the wall surrounding the churchyard is punctuated by a series of niches containing contemporary Stations of the Cross.

The Baroque church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a single-nave brick structure designed on a rectangular floor plan, with a narrower chancel to the west, designed on a roughly square plan. The church is also adjoined by rectangular chapels to the north - the so-called Founders’ Chapel abutting on the chancel as well as the chapel of St Anthony standing against the wall of the nave. The eastern façade of the church is preceded by a square porch. The church is characterised by a compact and slender cuboid shape covered with a tall gable roof surmounted by a Baroque steeple. The church does not feature a tower. The low, cuboid chapels adjoining the northern side of the main body of the church are covered with shed roofs, while the eastern porch features a gable roof.

The three-axial front façade, partitioned with paired pilasters supporting a mitred entablature with a profiled cornice, is topped with a triangular pediment flanked by simplified volutes. The side axes of the façade are enlivened by the presence of four niches containing statues of saints. The entrance porch, positioned on the middle axis of the front façade, is flanked by paired pilasters and accentuated by a decorative gable adorned with volutes and crowned with a triangular pediment. The appearance of the remaining façades is enlivened by framework decorations and a moulded crowning cornice. The interior of the church consists of a small, three-bay nave and a narrower, two-bay chancel, separated by a chancel arch wall with a round rood arch. Both the chancel and the nave feature vaulted ceilings of the barrel type, with lunettes. The walls of both of the interiors are adorned with symmetrically arranged, multiple pilasters supporting a profiled cornice. The northern wall is pierced with arcaded apertures between the pilasters, leading to the chapels. The eastern part of the nave is occupied by an organ gallery supported by pillars linked by arches. Both the walls and the ceilings inside the church are adorned with painted decorations from the 1920s, incorporating foliate and geometric motifs as well as genre scenes, while the vaulted ceilings inside the nave are also graced by decorative stucco panels. The two-bay Founders’ Chapel, positioned next to the chancel, features a double barrel vault, with the structural arches thereof resting on pilasters standing against the walls. The chapel of St Anthony - a single, open space accessible from the nave - is covered with a flat ceiling. The 18th-century fixtures and fittings of the church are designed predominantly in the Regency style and include a two-tier architectural main altarpiece with a Baroque crucifix, two side altarpieces flanking the chancel arch wall (the southern altarpiece of St Joseph and the northern altarpiece of St Francis) as well as three side altarpieces standing against the southern wall, including the altarpieces of St Peter of Alcantara, St Margaret of Cortona and the Virgin Mary. Other notable items include the pulpit and the confessionals. Inside the Founders’ Chapel there is an altarpiece of St Michael the Archangel, while the chapel of St Anthony contains an altarpiece dedicated to its patron saint.

The monastery is a brick structure adjoining the southern side of the church, consisting of four wings surrounding a rectangular garth. Its southern walls are reinforced with buttresses. An avant-corps projects from the south-western part of the monastery, while the eastern side thereof is adjoined by a pair of annexes which were added at a later date. The individual wings of the monastery all come equipped with cellars and were designed as two-storey structures covered with tall gable roofs, designed on a rectangular floor plan. The individual, multi-axial, two-storey façades of the monastery buildings are devoid of decorative flourishes save for a profiled crowning cornice. The south-eastern corner of the monastery as well as the south-western section of its façade are reinforced by monumental buttresses added in the 18th century. The front entrance into the monastery is preceded by a small, single-storey vestibule annex, covered with a gable roof, flanked by pilasters and crowned with a decorative, triangular gable. The interiors of the individual wings of the monastery consist of a single suite of rooms connected by means of an enclosed cloister surrounding the inner garth. Some of the ground-floor level rooms, including the refectory, the sacristy, the chapel and the cloister feature vaulted ceilings of the barrel type, with lunettes, with a double barrel vault supported by a single pillar used for the kitchen. The remaining ground-floor rooms as well as the monastic cells on the first floor are all covered with barrel vaults. The present layout of monastery interiors mostly corresponds to the original. The most important rooms on the ground-floor level of the monastery include the refectory located in the south-eastern corner and accompanied by a kitchen as well as the sacristy in the northern part of the western wing. The first-floor level contains monastic cells as well as a chapel for novices. The monastery library is located on the first-floor level of the north-eastern wing which was added at a later date.

The church is open to visitors. The monastery may only be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 25-09-2015.

Bibliography

  • Gruszczyński F., Kościół i klasztor OO. Reformatów w Pilicy: z okazji 200-lecia poświęcenia Kościoła, Pilica 1946.
  • Architectural monument record sheet. The monastery church of the Observant Franciscan Friars (church of the Holy Name of Jesus) [in Pilica], compiled by I. Kontna, 1997, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland.
  • Architectural monument record sheet. The monastery of the Observant Franciscan Friars [in Pilica], compiled by I. Kontna, 1997, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, Vol. I: woj. krakowskie, issue 12: powiat olkuski, J. Szablowski (ed.), Warsaw 1953, pp. 26-27.
  • Wiśniewski J., Historyczny opis miasta Pilicy, Marjówka 1933, pp. 54-62.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1743 - 1746
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Biskupice 47, Pilica
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district zawierciański, commune Pilica - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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