Collegiate church of John the Baptist, today the parish church of John the Baptist, Skalbmierz
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Collegiate church of John the Baptist, today the parish church of John the Baptist

Skalbmierz

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The church in Skalbmierz is an important example of the medieval sacred architecture in Poland. The church fittings of ca. 16th-18th centuries make up one of the most significant early modern collection of this type in Małopolska; the country-unique painting attributed to Jacob Jordaens, Adoration of the Magi (1640), deserves special attention.

History

The Romanesque temple in Skalbmierz was erected probably in the 12th century. Originally, it was a two-tower, one-nave building with a west gallery. It is believed that as early as in the 12th century the church was the seat of a collegiate, its provost being mentioned for the first time in a 1217 source. In 1235 Duke Konrad Mazowiecki ordered the reconstruction and fortification of the church. A source of 1326 mentions the establishment of a parish. In the 1443 earthquake, part of the ceiling and walls collapsed. This fact explains the construction of the present Gothic temple built on the older walls and towers in two phases: thanks to the collections of the faithful and probably owing to the funds donated by the bishop of Kraków, Zbigniew Oleśnicki. In the 3rd quarter of the 15th century, the nave body was built and the presbytery followed in the end of the 15th century. In the beginning of the 16th century, the sacristy was added along with a vault and chapter house in the upper floor. The 1st half of the 17th century saw the renovation of the church, connected with the reconstruction of the west façade and replacement of the aisle vaults. Between the 4th quarter of the 17th century and the 3rd quarter of the 18th century, the majority of the furnishings were removed and replaced by the late Baroque fittings. In 1819 the collegiate was dissolved. In 1853 a porch was added to the north façade. In the years 1873-1875, the church was thoroughly renovated. The fire of 1906 destroyed some of the furnishings, including the main altar. In the years 1907-1908, the effects of the fire were partially neutralized (the main altar was restored according to the previous design). In years 1949-1952, 1990-1997, 2001-2002 and 2011, a number of conservation and restoration works were carried out which contributed to the improvement of the technical condition of the historical building and its overall aesthetics. Conservation works of the font, parts of the side altars and stalls were carried out between 2002 and 2003.

Description

The church is located in the south part of the town, in the middle of an oval square (former cemetery), surrounded by a stone wall with a neo-Gothic belfry in the north-east corner. The oriented Gothic temple is a three-nave basilica supported by pillars and buttresses with a three-bay, square body and a rectangular presbytery closed with a polygonal wall. At the meeting point between the body and presbytery, on both sides, there are quadrilateral, Romanesque towers; the north one touches a rectangular structure (of the early 16th century) which contains: a vault with a spiral staircase embedded in the wall and a two-bay sacristy. Adjacent to the main body are also two porches: west and north (rectangular and pentagonal, respectively). The high temple body, supported by buttresses, is dominated by four-storey towers with neo-Gothic tented roofs, the nave and a slightly lower presbytery. Significantly lower are the other parts of the church, that is, the vault with a chapter house on the upper floor, the sacristy, the domed north porch and the west porch. The church was build of dimension stone, quarry stone and brick. The interior is partly plastered. The exterior of the body of the nave is covered with irregular stone tiles. The roofing is copper sheet. The stone and brick façades with buttresses of visible offsets have windows set within stone frames: arch-shaped with partially preserved traceries (in the main body and the presbytery) and rectangular (in the sacristy and the vault). The west façade features: a two-storey gable with volutes and a pilaster porch with embedded sculptural pieces of the 1st quarter of the 17th century (probably the remnant of a tombstone). The church's interior is covered with a double-barrel vault (over the main body and the west porch) and a cross vault (over the presbytery with two sculpted keystones with a miter and the head of Christ and over the sacristy and chapel in the ground level of the tower). Among the valuable furnishings, largely Baroque, there are, for example, the side altars and the pulpit of the 4th quarter of the 17th or the early 18th century, the stalls from the 2nd half of the 17th century, a sculptured decoration of the rood the Crucifixion on the rood beam of ca. 17th century - 1st quarter of the 18th century, a bench of the collegiate superior of 1592 (made by Bartłomiej Wachowski), the painting of Adoration of the Magi dated ca. 1640 (attributed to Jacob Jordaens or his workshop), the mannerist epitaph of Jan Krzecki made after 1599 (attributed to a Kraków master), the "marble" epitaph of the Rev. Antoni Stanczlewicz (d. 1758), the epitaph of the Rev. Stanisław of Skalbmierz (d. 1431) with a bust by Pius Weloński of 1900.

The historic building is accessible to visitors. Sightseeing upon prior telephone appointment.

Compiled by Łukasz Piotr Młynarski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 03.09.2014.

Bibliography

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General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: XII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Partyzantów 2, Skalbmierz
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district kazimierski, commune Skalbmierz - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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