The parish church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pyzdry
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The parish church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pyzdry

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An example of a Late Gothic town church following a basilica layout, founded by Casimir the Great.

History

The history of the town of Pyzdry can be traced back to the 13th century. The earliest mention of the land of Pyzdry dates back to the year 1234. Over the years, the town’s convenient location at the junction of important routes leading from Poznań towards Łęczyca and from Kalisz towards Gniezno proved conducive to its economic development. It is suspected that this area was also the site of a ducal stronghold designed to protect the Warta river crossing in the vicinity of which the trading settlement was established. The town of Pyzdry was chartered before the year 1257, which places it among the oldest chartered towns in all of Greater Poland. Pyzdry was a royal town, the seat of the local eldership (starostwo). Later on, from the 14th century onwards, the town served as the capital of the entire district.

The parish church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was first mentioned back in 1256. In 1331, as the invading forces of the Teutonic Order marched through the region, the church was plundered; its outer shell, however, has managed to survive. Shortly afterwards, the construction of the new parish church has begun. The decision to erect the church is widely attributed to Casimir the Great. The church erected during those times was a three-nave basilica with a narrower chancel with a semi-hexagonal termination and transept arms adjoining the western bay of the chancel. The upper storey of the transept arms served as galleries which opened towards the chancel; these were most likely intended for the monarch himself. Other historians, however, believe that the parish church in Pyzdry was either erected from the ground up in the second half of the 15th century or that it underwent thorough alteration works during that time, having started its life as a very different, earlier structure. It is believed that the tower on the western side of the church was also added during that time. In 1519, Jan Lubrański, the bishop of Poznań, conferred the collegiate church status upon the temple. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the building was gutted by fire on numerous occasions. In 1768, following one of such fires, the church underwent restoration works, with its interior being redesigned in the Baroque style. Another series of renovation works took place in 1806. One year later, however, another fire engulfed the church, after which it stood abandoned for many years. It was only in the years 1865-1870 that the parish church underwent a thorough refurbishment. Towards the end of the 19th century, the interior was decorated with polychrome decorations executed by Aleksander Przewalski, an architect from Kalisz. Successive repairs took place in 1937 and in years 1956-58, when the façade was stripped of all plasterwork in order to restore the original, Gothic appearance thereof.

Description

The church is located at the edge of an escarpment, behind the southern market square frontage, on Farna street. It is surrounded by a brick wall erected during the 19-th century restoration of the church. The church is oriented towards the east. It is a Late-Gothic church following a three-nave basilica layout, consisting of a three-bay main body and the adjoining two-bay chancel with a semi-hexagonal termination. The church features two sacristies, located at the extension of the side naves, alongside the chancel. A tower designed on a square floor plan and incorporating a porch on the ground floor level adjoins the main body of the church towards the east. The tower is flanked by a pair of rectangular side porches. The body of the church is compact in shape, its walls supported by buttresses. The main nave and the chancel, both equal in height, are covered by a tall gable roof. The side naves are covered with mono-pitched roofs. The entire structure is dominated by the monumental, three-storey tower, historically covered with a pyramid roof, currently crowned with a crenellated parapet.

The church is a brick building, its masonry being laid either in a monk bond (preserved in the main nave) or in the Gothic bond. The roof of the main nave and the chancel is clad with ceramic roof tiles, with sheet metal being used for the side naves. The interior features sail vaults. Inside both the main nave and the chancel, the ceiling is supported by pronounced arches and pilasters. Cross-rib vaulting with stone supports and a keystone adorned with the image of the Lamb of God survives in the southern sacristy. The northern sacristy and the porch inside the tower feature flat ceilings.

The façades, covered with red brick, were partially reconstructed in the 1950s; they are partitioned by massive buttresses. The windows are topped with semi-circular arches, with traces of earlier pointed-arch windows still visible on the façade. The tower is a three-storey structure with pointed-arch windows and a stepped portal in the western wall, topped with a crowning cornice and crenellated parapet designed in the Gothic Revival style.

The interior was redesigned in the Baroque style during the renovation works performed following a devastating fire which engulfed the church in 1786. The chancel opens towards the main nave through a broad rood arch, semi-circular in shape. The walls of the main nave and the chancel are divided by pilasters surmounted by the arches which form part of the sail vaults above, their design further enriched through the addition of small, faux domes. The side naves open up towards the main nave in a series of low, semi-circular arches. The ceiling is adorned with a polychrome decoration which focuses on Marian themes. The surviving original fixtures and fittings include, among others, a Late Gothic stoup made of stone, a crucifix dating back to the first quarter of the 16th century as well as the Baroque sculpture of God the Father.

The church is open to visitors. More information on the parish and the church service schedule can be found online at www.parafia.pyzdry.eu

compiled by Krzysztof Jodłowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznań, 31-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Dubowski A., Zabytkowe kościoły Wielkopolski, Poznań 1956, s. 230.
  • Gotyckie kościoły w Wielkopolsce, koncepcja, teksty i wybór fotografii P. Maluśkiewicz, Poznań 2008, s. 218-19.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, t. V, z. 29: powiat wrzesiński, Warszawa 1960, s. 13-14.
  • Kowalski J., Gotyk wielkopolski. Architektura sakralna XIII - XIV w., Poznań 2010, s. 98-104.
  • Łojko J., Civitas Pyzdry. Dzieje miasta do roku 1793, Pyzdry 2007, passim.
  • Tomala J., Murowana architektura romańska i gotycka w Wielkopolsce, t. 1, Architektura sakralna, Kalisz 2007, s. 371-72.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: po 1331 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Farna , Pyzdry
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district wrzesiński, commune Pyzdry - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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