Parish church of St John of Jerusalem Outside the City Walls, Poznań
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Parish church of St John of Jerusalem Outside the City Walls

Poznań

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The Late Gothic church of St John of Jerusalem Outside the City Walls in the Poznań Komandoria district was built in a couple of stages. Its oldest, Romanesque parts are dated to the turn of the 12th and the 13th century. It is one of the first buildings in Greater Poland made of brick. The nave is adjoined from the south by the Baroque chapel of the Holy Cross of 1736, where a miraculous crucifix from approx. mid-17th century can be found. Inside, there are surviving valuable fittings, among other things a Late Gothic main altar from the 1st quarter of the 16th century and a stone baptismal font from 1522.

History

The current church of St John of Jerusalem Outside the City Walls, many a time converted and extended in the next centuries, was created in the place of the earlier church of St Michael. In 1187, duke Mieszko III the Old donated it, along with the adjacent hospice, to the Order of Saint John. At the initiative of the monks, at the turn of the 12th and the 13th century, the construction of a new, brick church was commenced. In 1288, sources mention for the first time its new patron saint - St John - which was used along with the original one for as long as until the 2nd half of the 14th century. The exact date of the dedication of the parish is not known; the latest information in this scope comes from 1348. In that period of time, the chancel was covered with a vault. At the turn of the 15th and the 16th century century, the church was significantly converted and extended - the nave was covered with a new vault; a sacristy, along with a side nave and a tower, was added from the north, and the façades were reinforced by a system of buttresses. In the first half of the 18th century, the church underwent restoration. In was also in that period when a chapel was added to the southern façade of the main nave to house the miraculous crucifix from approx. mid-17th century. The neglected church underwent full-scale renovation in 1823, which saved it from dismantling planned earlier. In 1832, the property in the Komandoria district was taken over by the Prussian government.

In the early 20th century, plasterwork covering the front façade of the church was removed. In 1927, the chancel and the side nave were extended by the premises of the then sacristy, whose vault was converted from barrel to stellar one, and a new sacristy was added from the east. However, it was dismantled during renovation and conservation works conducted in the years 1945-1948 after war devastations. A new sacristy was erected in the place of the original one. It was also then when a treasury was added from the east to the chapel of the Holy Cross, plasterwork on the tower, buttresses of the front façade, and southern façade was removed, eastern gable analogical to the western one, a stepped, plastered gable of the sacristy, and a non-existent-before lantern topping the cupola of the chapel were built. Painted decorations in the interior was made by Stanisław Teisseyre.

Description

The church is located on the right bank of the Warta river, in the part of Poznań called Komandoria, in the area of the former property of the Order of Saint John. It is surrounded by the terrain of a former cemetery fenced with a brick wall, neighboured by Warszawska Street from the north, and from the south - areas around the Maltańskie Lake.

The original, oriented, Romanesque church was converted and extended in the period of Late Gothic. Its floor plan is comprised of a two-bay, rectangular main nave, adjoined from the east by a single-bay, narrower, and lower chancel built on a square floor plan. Next to it, on the north, there is a sacristy built on a nearly square floor plan. Further, at the northern façade, a two-bay side nave was added, adjoined from the west by a low, two-bay tower on a rectangular floor plan. On the southern side of the eastern bay of the main nave, there is a Baroque chapel of the Holy Cross from 1736, built on a rectangular floor plan. The single-storey church is made of brick, laid mostly in the monk bond, and it is plastered in the section of the side nave, sacristy, and the chapel. It is covered with gable roofs over the main nave, chancel, and sacristy, and an eight-faced roof, stepped over the tower. All roofs are clad with tiles. The cupola of the chapel of the Holy Cross is covered with metal sheet and topped with a post-war lantern with a cross on the top.

The front façade, as well as the façades of the tower and the main nave, are reinforced from the south by single-step buttresses. The plain western façade is topped by a non-separated, triangular gable. On its axis, there is a portal with a semi-circular top section resembling a basked-handle arch, with earlier, Romanesque stone capitals topping the columns. Over it, there is a niche with a semi-circular top section and two narrower windows of the same profile, and above, a three-stepped oculus. In the highest section of the gable, topped with an openwork St John cross, there are four round, plastered blind windows in a cross layout. The gable of the eastern façade, built in the years 1946-1948, is arranged in a similar manner to the front façade. The gable of the eastern façade houses a splayed window opening of the chancel with semi-circular top section and single bar tracery, and over it, there is a three-stepped oculus. The eastern façade is adjoined from the north by a stepped, plastered façade of the sacristy with a pointed-arch window on the axis, over which there are three blind windows of various heights. Window openings in side façades feature round and basket-handle arches. In the bottom storey of the northern façade of the tower, in the north-western corner, there is side door in a plastered, stepped arcade, leading inside the church through the ground floor of the tower. Over the door, there is a stepped window opening with a round arch. Analogical window openings are present on the two storeys of the western façade. Plastered façades of the chapel of the Holy Cross are truncated in the corners, articulated with pilasters and window openings with round arches, and topped with a high, profiled cornice.

The interior is arranged in a two-nave layout. The main nave, the side nave, and the sacristy are covered with eight-arm and four-arm stellar vaults with an eight-pointed star incorporated in them, and the chancel - by a groin vault. The main nave opens to the side nave with three arcades whose middle arch is pointed and side arches are rounded. The arcade of the rood arch features a semicircular arch and is covered with painted decorations depicting saints and Jesus Christ in a mandorla in the top section.

The most valuable fittings include a Late Gothic main altar from the 1st quarter of the 16th century, in the central part with a depiction of BVM with Child, St John the Baptist and St Stanislaus the Bishop, of Sacra Conversazione type; a chalice-shaped baptismal font of sandstone from 1522; a crucifix from the 1st half of the 16th century on the northern wall of the ground floor of the tower. In the chapel of the Holy Cross, there is a Late Baroque altarpiece from the 1st half of the 18th century with a miraculous crucifix from approx. mid-17th century.

The monument is accessible to visitors. More information about the parish of John of Jerusalem Outside the City Walls is available on the following website http://www.janjerozolimski.pl/ (access date: 28-11-2014).

compiled by Anna Dyszkant, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 28-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Atlas architektury Poznania, Poznań 2008, s. 256.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, t. VII: Miasto Poznań, cz. I: Ostrów Tumski i Śródka z Komandorią, oprac. Linette E., Kurzawa Z., Warszawa 1983, s. 116-121.
  • Krzyślak B., Kurzawa Z., Kościół św. Jana Jerozolimskiego za Murami na poznańskiej Komandorii, Poznań 2011.
  • Kurzawa Z., Kusztelski A., Historyczne kościoły Poznania. Przewodnik, Poznań 2006, s. 79-84.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XV/XVI w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Świętojańska 1, Poznań
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district Poznań, commune Poznań
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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