Bernardine monastery complex, currently serving as the Discalced Carmelite monastery, Piotrkowice
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Bernardine monastery complex, currently serving as the Discalced Carmelite monastery

Piotrkowice

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The former Bernardine complex in Piotrkowice forms a notable example of a peculiar 17th-century trend in Polish early modern architecture, combining both Late Gothic, Mannerist and Early Baroque influences. The monumental Loreto Chapel, erected between the 1770s and the 1780s, was once one of the most impressive structures of its kind anywhere in Poland. Its architecture was most likely modelled after the Santissmo Nome di Maria church located in the Trajan Forum in Rome. Today, the entire complex remains an important centre of Marian worship in the Kielce region. The overall artistic value of both of the buildings forming part of the complex is further enhanced by the presence of valuable fixtures and fittings amassed during the period between the 15th and the 20th century.

History

In the early 17th century, a field crucifix is known to have stood near the local parish church. Standing in the fields owned by the local parish priest, the crucifix was allegedly the site of many miracles and revelations. Despite his initial scepticism, the local priest, rev. Andrzej Gnojeński, ultimately became an ardent promoter of this holy site. It was at his initiative that, in 1627, Zofia Rokszycka – the erstwhile owner of the Piotrkowice manor who was suffering from a severe health condition – came to visit the site. Following her visit, she has miraculously recovered; that same year, she funded the construction of a wooden chapel near the site of the crucifix. In 1628, a sculpture of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child was relocated to the newly erected chapel from the parish church in Piotrkowice; the chapel itself was entrusted to the Calced Carmelites. It was most likely due to the persuasion of Marcin Szyszkowski, the bishop of Cracow, that the castellan of Połaniec, Marcin Rokszycki, invited the Bernardine monks to replace the Carmelites in the year 1630. The construction of the existing monastery complex began somewhere around the year 1635 and was completed in 1652, when the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Martin and St Anthony was consecrated. In 1657, the invading forces led by the Hungarian duke Rákóczi desecrated the complex. By the year 1660, the renovation works were completed, with further refurbishment works taking place in the second half of the 17th and the 18th century. In 1776, a Loreto Chapel was erected alongside the church, with the funds being provided by the local parishioners, Stanisław Krasiński (who died in 1762) as well as Joachim Tarnowski, who made a financial contribution to the project in 1788. In 1824, the Bernardine monastery faced dissolution; in the years 1824-34/41, the complex remained in the hands of the Redemptorists, who performed a series of renovation works in years 1824-25, adapting the complex to serve as a seminary and a school. In 1846, the complex was severely damaged by fire; the roofs of the buildings were lost to the blaze, which also led to the collapse of the church tower. The pipe organ and the altarpieces were likewise lost, while the vaulted ceilings inside the church were in such dire technical condition that the church service would be held outside the building instead. However, by 1873 the complex has already been mostly restored, although a substantial part of the former monastery was dismantled in the year 1850. The Loreto Chapel was restored in 1854. Towards the end of the 19th century, the church tower was rebuilt, while the rest of the buildings – including the Loreto Chapel – were subjected to comprehensive restoration works. A new main entrance gate was also added, while in 1899 the tomb of the Ossowski family was moved here from the local parish church. In 1945, in the course of wartime hostilities, the roof and the walls of the Loreto Chapel sustained substantial damage. In 1970, the entire complex was taken over by the Discalced Carmelites, who established their monastery here; they extended the surviving eastern wing and added a new wing in the 1990s. The full-scale restoration of the Loreto Chapel followed in the years 1978-83; once the works were completed, the chapel became home to the altarpiece of Our Lady of Sorrows, relocated here from the local parish church. In years 2006-11, the façades, roof truss and roof cladding of the buildings were restored. The main entrance portal of the church, the Gothic sculpture of the Virgin Mary with Child as well as another, much smaller sculpture of the Virgin Mary, dating back to ca. 1628, were all subjected to conservation works.

Description

The monastery complex occupies the south-eastern part of a trapezium-shaped parcel of land, positioned on a small hill which lies north-west of the village centre. The complex consists of the church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, adjoined to the north by the monastery itself, consisting of two wings; the Late Baroque Loreto Chapel lies west of the church. Access to the site is facilitated by a pair of gates forming part of the southern section of the perimeter wall. The single-nave church, oriented towards the east, features a three-bay main body and a distinct, rectangular chancel. The western façade of the church is preceded by a low, projecting porch with a three-storey tower in its centre, the latter designed on a square floor plan and featuring an octagonal upper section. A short, rectangular chapel adjoins the southern façade of the church. The entire structure is made of stone, with some of the walls reinforced with buttresses. Both the inner and outer surfaces of the walls feature a plaster finish. The nave, the chancel and the chapel are all covered with gable roofs, with the nave roof featuring a slender steeple dating back to 1732. The front porch features a mono-pitched roof, while the tower is crowned with a two-tier, bulbous cupola with an arcaded, openwork gallery. The rather austere façades of the church are accentuated by stepped gables flanked with volutes and divided into a number of distinct sections. Both the western and the eastern gable feature a similar design, with the latter also being adorned with painted decorations depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary with Child and St Francis). Similar, decorative gables also grace the chapel and the front vestibule, their surfaces partitioned vertically by rows of pilasters. The main entrance is accentuated by a stone portal with marble decorations. Inside, the church features a double barrel vault supported by structural arches in the nave, a hybrid arrangement of barrel and double barrel vaults in the chancel (with lunettes) as well as a typical vaulted ceiling of the barrel type in the chapel. The vaulted ceilings are adorned with plasterwork decorations, with the chancel ceiling being additionally embellished with the coats of arms of the men who made contributions towards the church in the past. Notable fixtures and fittings include the main altarpiece, created by an unknown Bernardine workshop between the 1650s and the 1660s, the wooden decorations around the rood arch, the side altarpieces as well as the stone detailing in the form of the two-tier tomb of Paweł Ossowski and his wife Zofia (1580-84), created by a sculpture from Cracow – a disciple of Santi Gucci – as well as a collection of marble-effect epitaph plaques. There are also numerous decorative headstones and the Rokszycki family tomb dating back to ca. 1652. The two side altarpieces, designed in the Rococo style and dedicated to St Stanisław Kostka and St Anthony (third quarter of the 18th century) are likewise an intriguing feature, as is the elaborate pulpit in the shape of a boat.

The monumental, domed Loreto Chapel was designed on an octagonal plan, with a rectangular vestibule. At its centre lies a rectangular Holy House, surrounded by an oval ambulatory. The chapel is a brick and stone structure, its walls covered with plaster both inside and out. The entire structure is graced by an elliptical dome with a roof lantern of the same shape. The two-storey façades are accentuated by an elaborate arrangement of pilasters superimposed on one another; the ground-floor level pilasters feature Tuscan capitals, whereas their first-floor counterparts have capitals in the Ionic style. The upper section of the chapel features large, segment-headed windows. Inside, the walls are adorned with pilasters. Those at the ground-floor level feature Corinthian capitals, while those in the upper section follow the Tuscan order. Arcaded niches occupy the spaces between the pilasters. The façades of the ambulatory around the Holy House are partitioned with lesenes, with the spaces between them adorned with grisaille paintings depicting various scenes from the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (early 19th century). A Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary with Child (ca. 1400) graces the niche in the western wall, flanked with pilasters and vertical posts. Other notable features of the interior include the altarpiece of Our Lady of Sorrows (ca. 1630), a headstone from ca. 1630-40 as well as reliquaries designed in the Rococo style.

The monastery features a single-storey, rectangular cloister adjoining the northern wall of the church and consists of a shirt, three-storey eastern wing with a single-storey interior, adjoined to the north by a modern monastic building. The buildings are made of brick and stone and feature a plaster finish both inside and out. The eastern wing features a gable roof, while the cloister has a mono-pitched roof. The façades of the monastery are simple and austere, with no architectural detailing to speak of. Inside, there are double barrel vaults at the ground-floor level, with flat ceilings used for the upper storeys. Rectangular chambers serving as the treasury and the sacristy are located at the ground-floor level of the eastern wing, next to the church. The sacristy interior is graced by Rococo wood panelling and cabinets dating back to the third quarter of the 17th century as well as a portrait of Marcin Rokszycki from ca. 1652. 

The monastery and church complex is surrounded by a stone perimeter wall incorporating a pair of gates adorned with statues and obelisks, leading into an extensive, well-kept yard with a recently established Marian Rosary Garden.

The site is open to visitors. Exploring the buildings is possible by prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 25-06-2015

Bibliography

  • Record sheets: Zespół kościelno-klasztorny bernardynów ob. parafialny karmelitów bosych, kościół bernardynów ob. parafialny, kaplica loretańska przy kościele, klasztor bernardynów przy kościele (Monastery and church complex of the Bernardine monks, currently serving as the Discalced Carmelite monastery – former Bernardine church [currently serving as the parish church], Loreto Chapel and Bernardine monastery), prepared by P. Mras, Kielce 1986, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Kielce, Archive of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Warsaw.
  • Karpowicz M., Sztuka Polska XVIII wieku, Warsaw 1985, p. 255.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, vol. 3. Województwo kieleckie, J. Z. Łoziński, B. Wolff (eds.), vol. 1: Powiat buski, prepared by K. Kutrzebianka, Warsaw 1957, pp. 52-56.
  • Kawa K., Ambony łodziowe w Polsce. Studium ikonograficzno-ikonologiczne, “Roczniki Humanistyczne” 2012, vol. LX, issue 4, pp. 287-324.
  • Kusztelski A., Kurzawa Z., Kult loretański w sztuce Rzeczypospolitej (koniec XVI-początek XIX w.), Poznań 2012, pp. 12, 102-103, 109, 110, 111, 114, 127, 129, 130, 133, 135, 141-142, 163, 254-258.
  • Łoziński J. Z., Pomniki sztuki w Polsce, vol. I: Małopolska, Warszawa 1985, p. 438.
  • Miłobędzki A., Architektura region u świętokrzyskiego w XVII wieku, “Rocznik Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach” 1975, vol. 9, pp. 57-83.
  • Miłobędzki A., Architektura polska XVII wieku, Warsaw 1980, pp. 248, 249.
  • Pabin A., Piotrkowice, [in:] Klasztory bernardyńskie w Polsce w jej granicach historycznych, H. E. Wyczawski (ed.), Warsaw 1985, pp. 256-258.
  • Rawita-Witanowski M., Dawny powiat chęciński. Z ilustracjami prof. Jana Olszewskiego, prepared by D. Kalina, Kielce 2002, pp. 351-361.
  • Wanat J. B., Zakon Karmelitów Bosych w Polsce. Klasztory Karmelitów i Karmelitek Bosych 1605-1975, Cracow 1979, pp. 606-609.
  • Wanat J. B., Maryjne sanktuarium w Piotrkowicach, Piotrkowice 2008, second supplemented edition.
  • Wiśniewski J., Historyczny opis kościołów, miast, zabytków i pamiątek w stopnickiem, Marjówce 1929, pp. 206-222.

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1635 - 1652
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Kościelna 1, Piotrkowice
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kielecki, commune Chmielnik - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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